Sunday, October 18, 2009

RTI turns four, but is not a strong tool yet

Four years have passed since the UPA government enacted the Right to Information (RTI) Act, but implementation of the landmark legislation has been heavily flawed, a survey has found. The survey found that only 13% of the rural population and 33% of the urban population was aware of the RTI act's existence. It was commissioned by the Centre's Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT) and conducted by consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. It took feedback from over 2,000 information seekers and 200 information providers, and studied the act's level of awareness among 5,000 citizens. "The awareness level of citizens regarding their rights as an appellant under RTI is minimal," said SK Sarkar, joint secretary, DOPT, at the annual convention of the Central Information Commission (CIC). The survey report says: "Over 75% of information seekers were dissatisfied with the quality of information provided [under the act]... 26% of citizens had to pay more than three visits to submit applications and 47% said there were no signboards to help them with the process."

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