Construction of Non-motorable walkway around Wular Lake: RTI Applicant Alleges Authorities of Asking Him To ‘Pay Charges’ Despite Belonging to BPL Category
Srinagar, Mar 16: An RTI applicant from Bandipora on Thursday alleged that he has been asked to deposit charges by a Public Information Officer in the Office of Executive Engineer R&B Division Bandipora in lieu of obtaining desired information vis-à-vis construction of non-motorable walkway around Wular Lake in the north Kashmir district.
Exercising his right to know, anti-corruption & RTI activist, Parvaiz Bhat had sought details of tendering process of construction work of non-Motorable walkway around Wular lake from Banyari Bridge to Naaz Nallah including approach road leading towards Delta Park. The work, according to him, is being executed by WUCMA and is being supervised by R&B (PWD) Division Bandipora.
“I had filed the RTI as I was having strong apprehensions that proper procedure and formalities have not been taken care of before and after the tendering process of the work”, Bhat told GNS.
“The approach road constructed can cost the lives of people in future as the laid procedure hasn’t been followed anywhere as sub standard soil has been used in gross violation of the set norms”, he said.
He alleged that R&B department in order to save their skin were hiding information and are instead serving him notices to pay arbitrary costs for obtaining the desired information.
Taking a strong exception to the levy of ‘arbitrary costs’, Bhat said that these PIOs need to be first imparted with proper training and awareness regarding the provisions of RTI Act (2005). “I belong to the BPL category and have attached the photocopy of my Ration card with the RTI application for reference. There are clear observations in the (RTI) Act that persons belonging to BPL category are exempted from paying any kind of fee,” he added.
He further alleged that he was being pressurized to withdraw RTI Application by the different quarters.
He appealed probe agencies including CBI, ACB and Crime Branch Kashmir to take suo-moto cognizance of the matter and initiate a probe into the matter in order to bring the culprits to justice.
When contacted, Public Information Officer (Executive Engineer R&B Division Bandipora), Asadullah Najar told GNS that they haven’t denied any information to the applicant under the Act.
“We haven’t denied any information. He was asked to pay the requisite amount against the Photostat charges”, he said.
Asked about the exemption to BPL category under the Act, Asadullah Najar claimed that there are 50% of Ration Cards issued fraudulently. “The applicant should obtain an income certificate mentioning the income of not more than 1000 Rupees per month from concerned Tehsildar and accordingly we will entertain that he’s belonging to a BPL category”, he maintained.
He also said that the applicant was not being pressurized by anyone to withdraw the application. (GNS)
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