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My experience with the RTI Act was positive
So far the limited experiences I have had with the RTI Act have been positive, but then I have not asked any politically sensitive questions. And that I think is fine. The average Indian is not likely to file RTIs to expose political issues though activists might. The common man is more likely to seek information that will make his own day to day life easier.. And even if that happens, some good would have been achieved.

It has been some years, of course, since the Right to Information Act was enacted in India, but it is only recently that I have begun using it. This is because to some extent the process involved was cumbersome in the early years, particularly identifying the correct PIO and sending the query there.

But now that there are online sites available who will do all the filing for you for a small fee, I decided to give this a try and see if the RTI mechanism worked to provide information for the common man as against the regular activist. My initial experiment was small. There was a road in front of my house that was full of potholes and looked like it had not been paved in some years.

So I made out a query to enquiry whether the road had been paved in the year 2011, 2012 and 2013 and whether there was any plan to repave it in the next six months. The first reply came with about ten days, surprising me, but it was only to say that the query had been sent to the wrong officer and was being forwarded to the next person. After another ten days, another reply came to indicate that the second officer too was not the correct person and the note was being passed on to a third person.

By now, I was a bit cynical. Anyhow, soon I had to go on an official trip for about 10 days and was not in a position to track progress for a while. But the first thing I did notice once I returned from my trip was that the pot-holes ridden service road in front of my house was repaired and neatly paved. A few days thereafter, I received a reply from one of the offices of the Delhi Development Authority to say that the road in question had not been repaired in 2011 or 2012 but had been repaired in 2013.

Although it took a couple of months to get a reply, the fact that I not only got a reply but the problem that I had raised itself got resolved, was a great encouragement to me, and prompted me to take up other issues. One of them concerned the issue of Provident Fund of an organization where I had once worked. This organization once ran their own PF trust, then decided to migrate to EPFO and for all intents and purposes, the job was well done.

However, when employees started resigning and started putting in claims, they would not get their funds. The situation was unclear to everyone  and numerous visits to the EPF office concerned yielded no results. So armed with my modest success in getting information about an unpaved road, I proceeded to file at RTI with the EPFO asking for clarity on the PF situation regarding the concerned establishment.

This time, I had done some research to identify the correct PIO so that the application did not move from person to person. To my surprise, I got a reply with a month providing information that people had not been able to get together for over at least a year. After that I filed my next application to the Delhi Metro asking about the maintenance schedule and again the escalators that I was talking about were repaired and then I got a reply to say escalators in question were functioning.

And now I have filed another with the UIADI to enquire about the process and the time taken to update changes in the Aadhar database, once a person’s address, location etc changed. Let us see. So far the limited experience I have had with the RTI Act have been positive, but then I have not asked any politically sensitive questions. And that I think is fine. The average Indian is not likely to file RTIs to expose political issues though activists might. The common man is more likely to seek information that will make his own day to day life easier. And even if that happens, some good would have achieved.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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