CHENNAI: The RTI week just ended this Thursday without anyone aware of it. Reason? The Centre supposedly delayed the funds for the annual exercise organised across the country to create awareness on the right to information and encourage transparency in governance.
The RTI week is celebrated every year between October 5-12 and is generally marked by events aimed at creating awareness about the Act and its effective use. But, this year it went by almost unnoticed in Tamil Nadu since the State Information Commission could not organise any event because of the delay in sanctioning of funds by the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions. “We had promptly sent our proposals this year. But the fund was sanctioned only in October. Last year, the sanction came in the month of September,” a senior SIC official told Express, on condition of anonymity. It was only on October 6 that Rs 2,98,000 was finally sanctioned. But the amount is yet to be deposited, the official added.
The commission hopes to conduct the awareness events at least by this month-end, once the amount gets deposited.Incidentally, this year the Central Information Commission also did not conduct the national convention on RTI, held annually during the RTI week since 2006. Taken together, activists wonder whether the Union government was putting the right to information on the backburner.
Nikhil Dey, a well known RTI activist, was worried over the government sidelining such events especially when there are several issues like the proposed amendments to RTI Act that would weaken the law, attacks on RTI petitioners and a huge pendency of cases before the information commissions.
Why TN needs an RTI week
A study on corruption by Centre for Media Studies found people in Tamil Nadu extremely unaware of the RTI act. A mere 19% are aware of it in the state, up from the 8 percent recorded in 2007. TN is ranked in the bottom three along with UP (18%), and MP (24%)