RTI awareness in AP rising among rural people

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 15:46

Hyderabad: Even though urban people are
considered `more aware` than their rural counterparts, in
Andhra Pradesh, it is the rural people who are getting
increasingly aware about the use of Right to Information Act,
2005 as compared to urbanites.

According to the data furnished by the Andhra Pradesh
Information Commission, while the awareness level among rural
public about RTI has been sharply increasing every year, it is
showing a declining trend among the urban populace.

In 2006, the awareness among rural people in filing RTI
appeals and complaints was only 11 per cent as against 89 per
cent among urbanites. In 2007, it rose to 32 per cent among
rural people and came down to 68 per cent among urbanites.

"The (awareness) percentage continued to rise in rural
areas in 2008 and 2009, while it constantly reduced in urban
parts. In 2010, 43 per cent of rural public became aware of
RTI whereas the figure fell to 57 per cent among urban
populace," a top functionary of the AP Information Commission
pointed out.

A series of programmes taken up by the Commission, the
respective district Collectors as well as RTI activists and
media to propagate the RTI Act have helped increase the
awareness levels among rural people, he added.

"Our objective is to increase the awareness level and
improve the appeals by rural people to 70 per cent," Chief
Information Commissioner Jannat Husain said.

Rise in awareness has also led to increase in the number
of applications filed with the Principal Information Officers
in the state from about 8,864 in 2006 to 1,01,453 in 2010.

Of the total 2.66 lakh RTI applications since 2006,
2.56 lakh have been disposed of and in 95 per cent of these
cases the requested information has been furnished to the
applicants.

However, the mounting pendency both in terms of
applications and appeals has become a cause of concern. By
the end of 2010, the number of appeals and complaints pending
at the Commission has increased to 7,271, a staggering 35.72
per cent. The number of applications pending at the PIOs is
9,955.

The APIC has been reduced to a "one-man show" with just
the Chief Information Commissioner presiding over it. Three
Information Commissioners demitted office last November, but
the state government is yet to make new appointments. In fact,
the APIC could have ten Information Commissioners in all, but
not a single vacancy has been filled.

"People are suffering due to lack of Information
Commissioners," Chief Information Commissioner Jannat Husain
lamented.

His repeated requests to the Chief Minister to appoint
new Information Commissioners have met with "no response" so
far. "I am helpless, since it is the government’s job to
appoint the ICs," the CIC noted.

The Commission is now using the video-conference mode
to conduct hearings on appeals in each district headquarters
town so as to ease the burden on applicants as well as dispose
of cases in quick time.

But, without any regular Information Commissioners in
place, files will only pile up at the Commission.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 15:46

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