BARGARH : For a differently-abled person, travelling to government offices to get his rightful dues can be an unnerving experience.
Polio-affected Sananda Nag realised this very early in life. To prevent others like him from passing through the ordeal, 44-year-old Nag of Bargarh took to Right to Information (RTI).
In the last 12 years since he became an RTI activist, Nag has filed over 70 RTIs for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) who were unable to get government benefits or failed to get their problems addressed due to procedural lapses in government offices. He has also been creating awareness among them about the use of RTI.
Nag was two-years-old when he was affected by polio.
“This hit my education and I had to discontinue studies after matriculation. But I was associated with many welfare activities by NGOs including ActionAid which was active in Bargarh”, he said.
Nag, who is 70 per cent handicapped and cannot walk properly, turned an RTI activist in 2009 when he had to struggle at a government office to get his name included in the ration card beneficiaries list.
“My name in the list was omitted for reasons best known to the officials concerned. I was made to move from one table to another in the office to get my work done. After shuttling between tables for around two months, I could not get a satisfactory response from any officials on why my work was being delayed”, recalled Nag who ekes out a living by binding wires.
He contacted ActionAid workers who advised him to file an RTI.
“Surprisingly, my ration card problem was solved in less than a month. While I was visiting some offices for my work, I noticed that many like me are going through the same plight and I realised not many know about right to information”, he said. This was when he decided to file RTI to get their work done.
Nag said that although there are many government welfare schemes for PwDs, they are deprived of the benefits due to corrupt officials.
“RTI is a very important weapon to fight corruption. I have been using it to remove the roadblocks that PwDs face while availing these benefits”, said the activist who is using social media to make the process easier.
He uses Twitter and Facebook to amplify grievances of PwDs and inform officials concerned about them.