There are so many reasons for Corrupt state of the Country, which includes Family Politics, Corrupt Politicians and the Corruption itself from grass root level.
Of course, we (the team) were also pointing fingers on others when we discuss the sad state of our country until recently, when we came across this powerful tool, Right To Information act, which empowers a Common Man to question the government on almost anything.
We decided to question on how our money being spent by the Government and after some research on http://www.sp.tn.gov.in/, we found this Government Order:
In brief, that document is an Order from TN Government to plant 64 Lakh saplings around Tamil Nadu with a budget of 64 Lakh rupees of Tax Payer’s money, in an effort to increase the green cover.
We, joining hands with Chennai Social Service decided to raise several strong critical questions to probe and possibly find any corrupt acts and we listed out around 26 questions. Some of the important questions being:
- Was the project to buy Seedlings given under tender? If yes, provide us with tender details including name of the applicants, their address & their quotations, and to which applicant was the the contract sanctioned?
- Please provide us with all the Quarterly progress reports along with the digital photographs in a Compact Disc of the seedlings.
- What steps has Government taken for seedlings lost due to theft and vandalism?
We filed the RTI on Jan 3rd, 2013 through the NGO Chennai Social Service (CSS), since we have questions on some big amounts and filing such RTI as an individual is not a so good idea. A month passed and we didnt get any response. So we filed our First Appeal after a month and it was returned saying “Wrong address”. But the Appellate Authority was rightly addressed as mentioned in tn.gov.in
We stumbled for sometime, not knowing what to do and decided to call E & F Department directly asking for explanation. They never picked for 3 days and then we got the connection. They replied Tmt. Mallika Sultana who is the Appellate Authority was retired some time back, but the web site is not yet updated. Damn!!
Lesson Learnt: Never ever mention the names of Public Information Officers / Appellate Authorites in communication.
March (Re – Sent)
Then we resent the RTI application again on March via CSS, which got nil response. So First appeal was applied in May. There were absolutely no response from both PIO (Baskar Gnanasekaran) and First Appellate Authority, as if they looted the whole 32 Crores, without giving anyone any shares !!
Second Appeal on July
3 months passed and we filed a Second Appeal to Tamil Nadu Information Commission (TNIC), pleading to help us get the requested information. Not just that, but we also filed a complaint on PIO and First Appellate Authority to TNIC on August 22, 2013.
The day before we filed the Appeal and Complaints, PIO Baskar Gnanasekaran responded on August 21, 2013. He forwarded the original RTI (filed months before) to Forest Officers of ALL districts in Tamil Nadu. We restricted our questions to just Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram Districts in our RTI, but no one knows why the PIO forwarded it to all Districts. Anyway, lets see if some one replies !!!
TN Information Commission responded on December and called us and the PIO for hearing. Unfortunately, the letter reached our hands only on the date of hearing and we couldn’t attend. But no fine is imposed on the PIOs or no order is passed by the Information Commission to give the required information.
Thiru K.S. Sripathi, the Information Commissioner, perfectly violated RTI Act of India, by failing to impose fine of the PIO, which is the essence of RTI. We seriously wish he quits soon and some un corrupt clean Commissioner takes charge.
But the good thing is we received all the required information from the 3 requested districts in the month of December, 2013. The information was given in big bundles and we are yet to scan and process the information.
Link to Original RTI and Documents
Current Status: Received Information (Closed)