‘What’s RTI? Ask the photocopy shop outside’
The first was Chembur, my ward. No one had a clue where I could get an RTI form, not the general administration, neither the CFC. The CFC, by the way, is the Citizen Facilitation Centre and they are supposed to help citizens’ civic queries and also accept filled out RTI forms. Other staff members did not even know what RTI was! Finally, someone from the CFC said I should check with the photocopy shop opposite the ward office and ask for the RTI form there. However, the photocopy centre didn’t have any such format form.
‘Get her a photocopy of the form’
The second ward where I didn’t expect any kind of help was Kurla. The officer not only made me sit in his cabin, he also asked his subordinate to get a photocopy of the format form.
‘I’ll tell you the correct department to submit your form to’
And the third ward was Bandra, where the officer was very cordial. While waiting for the photocopy of the format form, he told me which department would be able to answer my RTI query effectively.
Keep a copy
However, much needs to be done to make the wards more RTI-friendly. And they can start by keeping a photocopy of the format forms for a Re 1 fee, instead of asking people to take it down. Not everyone comes prepared with a pen and paper, which means you either write it down or take a photocopy. I did both, thinking to myself that the information-gathering process was being deliberately made difficult.
Some forms were pasted on walls; you could not take the wall for a photocopy. Other forms were on walls that were filthy dirty so the form was not legible. You could be standing in front of that wall and not know there was a form stuck on it. In Dahisar, the form was stuck at the entrance itself and the guard stationed there, in front of whose face it was, didn’t have a clue. Not about where the form was, not about what an RTI was, nothing.
550: the number of Public Information Officers (PIO) in the city
69: appellate authorities
12-13: average number of PIOs in each ward
22,602: number of RTI applications received from January till June, this year
22,289: number of RTIs cleared out of the above-mentioned number
5,074: maximum number of RTI applications received, in K (east) ward, till August 08. The ward is supposed to have received the maximum number of RTIs in the city
1,720: number of RTIs received by building proposal department till July 08. This department gets the maximum RTI queries
(Published in Sunday Mid Day on 19th October, 2008)