Friday, July 23, 2010

RTI powers change in Chhattisgarh villages

For the two villages that had fallen off the development map and were infamous for their violent conflicts, it's been an impressive turnaround. Taking the help of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a determined group of youngsters have changed the negative narrative of Moch, a two-village panchayat in Chhattisgarh's Bilaspur district, into a positive script — greater political accountability, transparency and social change. Earlier, elected officials avoided the area. "The conflicts and clashes, mostly caste-based and political, were so frequent that the administration was forced to set up a police chowki here," said Shiva Dhruve (35), a resident of Moch, the larger of the two villages, around 140 km east of Raipur. The light at the end of a seemingly endless tunnel came in the form of a campaign by the NGO Chhattisgarh Citizens' Initiative.

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