For a few years now, I together with my colleagues have been rigorously campaigning for permitting residents of Jammu & Kashmir to entry info via a digital platform. This writer has written extensively on this topic and have been even given assurance by none aside from the then J&Ok Chief Secretary Dr A Ok Mehta himself. It’s virtually three months since we met the Chief Secretary however RTI doesn’t discover a place on the e-platform at the same time as J&Ok Govt claims to be no 1 within the nation by offering greater than 1200 on-line providers to individuals.
After our assembly with the Chief Secretary, some native newspapers carried news that an internet RTI portal can be launched by the Govt. After assembly a delegation of RTI activists in Srinagar and Jammu, the then Chief Secretary Dr A Ok Mehta had directed the Administrative Secretary of Info Know-how Division to develop an internet RTI portal on the sample of the portal of the Central Authorities.
The Chief Secretary has directed all of the departments to undertake proactive measures for coaching of the Public Info Officers (PIOs), who have been imagined to have a 3 days coaching earlier than dealing with the function of PIO. Neither have individuals been given the net RTI facility nor are PIOs given coaching to deal with the RTI purposes.
Assurance given by Chief Secretary
Infact, in 2022 as properly, the Govt had given assurances in regards to the creation of an internet RTI platform in J&Ok and the then Chief Secretary had impressed upon all of the Govt places of work to make all of the offline providers on-line. As per the Govt assertion issued on December sixteenth 2022, the Chief Secretary whereas reviewing the efficiency of the Info Know-how (IT) Division in a gathering, directed the officers to organize an inventory of all of the providers offered by the Govt departments. The Chief Secretary directed the officers to separate the providers nonetheless provided via offline mode and put together a roadmap for providing the identical via an internet platform with end-to-end digitisation by January fifteenth 2023. The Chief Secretary in the course of the assembly requested the officers of the IT division to problem advisories to completely different Govt departments for conducting safety audits of their official web sites as properly with none delay.
By January fifteenth 2023, all of the offline providers needed to be made on-line however at the same time as we’ve entered 2024 and first month of this 12 months can be coming to an finish the residents in J&Ok proceed to hunt info below Proper to Info Act 2005 (RTI Act) via the archaic and out of date methods by going to workplace and submitting an RTI utility. In lots of circumstances, the PIOs will not be in workplace and the candidates have to return again, shifting from pillar to put up within the Govt places of work. Some candidates who’re a bit properly versed with RTI file it through pace put up however in lots of circumstances the appliance isn’t responded to in any respect.
As on date, residents intending to hunt info below RTI in J&Ok write down an RTI utility, take its printout, then buy the Indian Postal Order (IPO) of Rs 10 which isn’t accessible in all of the native put up places of work. The applying is then despatched through pace put up / registered put up or dropped personally in a Govt workplace. However this isn’t the case with central Govt places of work. One can file an RTI utility on a mobile phone and pay utility charges on-line. If J & Ok is instantly being dominated by the centre for greater than 5 years, why will not be the identical providers being given to individuals right here?
Challenges confronted by RTI candidates
Attributable to non-availability of the net RTI facility in J&Ok, the candidates face a number of challenges. They face problem particularly to deposit RTI utility charges of Rs 10 within the form of Indian Postal Order (IPO). To purchase an Indian Postal Order (IPO) is a tough process in J&Ok. I’ve not come throughout a single put up workplace in any city or rural space of J&Ok the place Rs 10 Indian Postal Orders (IPOs) can be found freely. I’ve been writing about it for final a few years now. In a metropolis like Srinagar or Jammu, or Srinagar, one should purchase an IPO from a put up workplace that too in GPO , however in districts or tehsil headquarters that is not possible and in smaller villages or cities one can not even consider getting an IPO from an area put up workplace?
If an individual from a distant village of Poonch or Kishtwar desires to file an RTI utility, the RTI applicant must journey all the best way from his or her village to district headquarters and once more there isn’t any assure that IPO will probably be accessible or not.
I do know many RTI candidates who travelled all the best way from Kupwara or Bandipora to Srinagar Basic Put up Workplace GPO to purchase a Rs 10 Postal Order. That is unacceptable.
Had on-line RTI service been accessible in J&Ok like central Govt places of work, individuals residing in distant areas like Gurez Bandipora or Machil in Kupwara Dachan or Pader in Kishtwar district may additionally entry info from their cell phones. To hunt info via an offline mode, an RTI applicant has to journey to Govt places of work, pay bus fare after which spend the entire day within the city. It is a extra pricey affair even for these candidates who dwell below Beneath Poverty Line (BPL) class. The BPL candidates have to not pay Rs 10 IPO however to ship the RTI utility through pace put up is a problem for them. They need to journey to a city to ship the appliance to the Govt workplace via a pace put up. In some circumstances these poor candidates journey to their tehsil, block or district headquarters spending no less than Rs 300 to 500 plus leaving their work for a day.
Infact final 12 months’s theme of Worldwide RTI Day (September 28th 2023) was additionally focussed on Entry to Info via digital mode. The theme was titled as “The Significance of the net house for entry to Info”. At a time when the Govt of India talks about embracing synthetic intelligence -AI to reshape the Governance and Public providers supply I’m unable to know why J&Ok Govt isn’t giving its residents the entry to hunt info electronically ? I request the incumbent Chief Secretary to take this problem significantly and ask the IT Division to launch an internet RTI portal in J&Ok with none delay
- Views expressed within the article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially signify the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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