News : RTI Activists Urge Tamil Nadu to Follow Bihar Helpline Model
Chennai, Aug 25, 2014 -- Tamil Nadu lags behind several other states when it comes to transparency in governance. To overcome this, RTI activists have urged the state to follow a Bihar model where citizens submit RTI applications by dialing a helpline.
Citizens in Bihar just have to make a call to the Jaankari helpline, launched in 2007, to file RTI applications. The telephone operator receiving the call drafts the application and sends it to the concerned Public Information Officer (PIO) for providing the requisite information to the applicant. The applicant also gets a reference number of the application.
In case information is not provided by authorities, the applicant is entitled to file appeals through the helpline. A 10 RTI application fee is added to the telephone call charge.
"This model would empower people and bring transparency as well as accountability. It will also help people get government services without paying a bribe," said RTI activist Senthil Arumugam. "Under the RTI Act, every citizen has the right to know about the status of ongoing projects and reasons for delay. The dial-to-information facility will make procedures easier."
Madras high court advocate V S Suresh said the Jaankari project would help even illiterate citizens use RTI. "It will help senior citizens and the disabled obtain data under the Act without any hassle." The Bihar Information Commission has also started an online system to register complaints against errant PIOs for delaying and denying information under the RTI Act. It has also introduced an online appeal filling system on its website for the applicants. Tamil Nadu, however, is yet to introduce an online filing system despite repeated petitions.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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