मंगलवार, 3 अप्रैल 2018

Resolution of 10th State Convention on RTI in Odisha

Resolution passed in the 10th State Convention on “Right to Information” held at Saheed Smruti Bhawan, Bhadrak from 30th March to 1st April, 2018

Bhadrak Declaration

The 10th State Convention on “Right to Information” was organised by Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan ( A platform of RTI Activists spearheading  campaign  for effective implementation  of RTI Act in Odisha)  at Saheed Smruti Bhawan, Bhadrak on 30th March to 1st Aprl, 2018.  Around 30 RTI Activists, intellectuals, academicians, PIOs, retired Govt. officials had participated in the deliberation during convention.  While Sri Sunil Kumar Mishra, State Chief Information Commissioner delivered inaugural address in the 1st day of the Convention, Prof. M.Sridhar Acharyulu, Central Information Commissioner addressed the gathering in the closing ceremony. Prominent figures who spoke about RTI and enlightened the audience were Sri Venkatesh Nayak, Programme Manager, Common-Wealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), New Delhi, Sri Nikhil Dey, National Convener, NCPRI, Sri Rabi Das, senior journalist, Sri Panchanan Kanungo, former Minister, Sri Dhirendra Panda, State Convener, Civil Society Forum on Human Rights, Sri S.M.Faroque, eminent Social Activist, Smt. Sanjukta Panigrahi, Woman Activist, Sri Subash Panda, Social Activist and many others.  Sri Pradip Pradhan, State Convener, Sri Biswa Keshari Mohanty, District Convener, Sri Prakash jena, District Coordinator of OSAA coordinated the 3-day programme. 

After long deliberation on various issues relating to implementation of RTI Act and anti-corruption campaign, attack on RTI Activists and  functioning of Odisha Information Commission,  the convention unanimously passed the following resolutions to strengthen RTI Campaign and fight out corruption in the state.

1. Though 12 years’ implementation of RTI Act is over in the state, the   common people at grass-root level are hardly aware about this sun-shine law due to lack of awareness campaign. It is seen that RTI Act has become most powerful tool in the hand of citizens to fight against corruption.  The common people are seen worst victim of corruption and irregularities noticed in the implementation of various Govt. welfare programmes. Realising   necessity of the common people  to be sensitised  about RTI Act to fight against  corruption and deprivation of their entitlements,  OSAA will organise  massive awareness programme  at Gram Panchayat and  block-level.  The people will be educated and motivated to file RTI in the Gram Panchayats,   breeding ground for corruption.  Simultaneously,  twice in a month, RTI  Help centre  will be organised   in front of block office to sensitise  the people about  the procedure  to file RTI  and  access the information about  welfare  schemes like PDS, ICDS, MDM, Agricultural loan scheme, NREGA,   Irrigation scheme, Housing scheme etc.

2.It  was pointed out  by many speakers that   awareness programme in school and colleges is very low.  The students are hardly aware about RTI. So it was resolved to organise seminar, symposium in the High Schools, colleges and Universities in a massive way across the state.

3.  As per section 4(4) of the RTI Act,  the suo moto disclosed  information shall be published  in Odia language. But though 12 years have passed,   not even a single Govt. office has made proactively disclosed information {section 4 (1b) } in Odia language. All the information are in English which the common people could not understand it. Recently, the State Govt. has declared to enforce all official correspondence in Odia language. In view of it, the Convention demands before State Govt. to take steps immediately to disclose  all  such  information  in Odia language and update all  proactively disclosed information as required under section  4 (1b)  of the RTI Act.

4. It was debated in the convention that some of the  provisions of Odisha RTI  Rules, 2005 i.e., compulsory 11-column RTI Application, mandatory system of submission of proof of citizenship at the time of filling RTI Application, compulsory Appeal form and fee are illegal  and absurd. These provisions have created a lot of the problem for common people to access the information. So, it was resolved that the State Govt. should withdraw these illegal provisions and to make Odisha RTI Rules  more peoples friendly.

5. The Convention expressed deep concern over rising attack on RTI Activists across the state. A number of RTI Activists are implicated with false cases. They are threatened and beaten up mercilessly and socially boycotted. Within period of 10 years, around 30 RTI Activists have been harassed and tortured by the politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and vested groups in the state. Two RTI Activists have been murdered.  So in view of it, the house demands that the State administration should ensure protection to RTI Activists and register their complaints on priority basis and investigate the matter and arrest the culprits.

6. One of the major scams exposed by Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan is Land Scam in Odisha.   Huge quantity of land have been illegally acquired by  BJD politicians, Ministers, MLAs, Officers, private educational institutions and  business house  including KIIT through fraudlent means  in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The irregularities in allotment of plot/land by IDCO, Odisha State Housing Board, GA Department, CDA and BDA  was enquired by Task Force   in 2014 which has recommended  for taking legal action against the people involved in the scam and  returning back of the land from them.  Though four years have passed, the State Govt. has not been able to recover a single piece of land  from land grabbers.  The land scam as estimated has caused a revenue loss of Rs. 10,000 crore to state exchequer.  As the State Govt. is sitting over investigation file, OSAA will carry out the movement for returning back   this land to Govt. fold and legal action against land grabbers.

7. After enactment of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act in 2013, the State Govt. took much credit   as first state by passing  Odisha Lokayukta Bill in 2014. Though four years passed, the State Govt. has not constituted Lokayukta in Odisha. It was resolved  to continue the movement  demanding  constitution of Lokayukta in the state.  State-wide signature campaign will be organised  and submitted to Governor seeking direction to State Government to constitute Lokayukta in the State .

8. In 2014, the Parliament  in its last session passed  Whistle –Blower Protection Act in order to provide safeguard  to the  Whistle blowers fighting against corruption and irregularities  in Govt. machinery. When BJP Came to power in the centre,  it was expected  that  this Govt. would take steps to implement the law.  But astonishingly, the BJP Govt.  made some retrograde amendment to this Act  and    presented  in parliament  for passage of  the Whistle-blowers’ Protection ( amendment) Bill  which was opposed  by the Activists  across the  country  and demanded  its  withdrawal. This Amendment Bill is still pending.  On the other hand, Attack on Human Rights Activists, RTI Activists is rising day by day  in the  absence of any legal framework  for  their protection in the country.  A good number of RTI Activists  have been murdered. Hundreds of Activists have been mercilessly beaten up , put behind bar on charges of false cases.  After thorough deliberations, it was resolved that OSAA will keep continuity of this movement for immediate implementation of Whistle blowers’ Protection Act.

9. The power and functions of Odisha Information Commission was debated in the convention. All the Activists expressed their displeasure over delayed hearing of the case and long pendency of the case. It is estimated that around 10,000 cases is pending  in the office of  OIC  for disposal. Due to delayed hearing,  the  information , though provided after order of the Commission  is loosing its  importance. It was resolved to demand to Odisha Information Commission to hear the cases  within 3 months of receipt of the Complaint/ Second Appeal cases by the office of Commission.

10.  In order to bring more transparency and accountability in implementation of Govt. programme, the Convention passed a resolution demanding before  Govt.  to conduct social  audit of all works of all Departments. So that the participation of the common people will in crease  in Govt. and utmost transparency  to be enforced.

Prepared  by
Pradip Pradhan
State Convener, Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan

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