Activists ask how they can seek information about government bodies or projects when they don’t know where to go and whom to approach.

File photo of Telangana CM KCR addressing the media
news RTI Wednesday, December 16, 2020 - 17:19

Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana, which boasts a host of labels such as “smart city” and “global city” reserved for its ability to embrace technology, ironically fails at providing a basic portal to file Right to Information pleas online, say activists. Thirty-year-old G Vishal Vanjari, a city-based RTI activist, had written to the Principal Secretary of Information Technology (IT) Jayesh Ranjan in May 2019 asking why Telangana did not have an RTI website and how the state could call itself a global city when it was not adopting technology even for governance.

However, more than a year later, no action has been taken to address the concerns of the citizens who are demanding accountability from the government.

Speaking to TNM, Vishal said, “It’s very difficult to seek RTI responses from government departments without an e-forum where we can apply and monitor the progress of the pleas. In Hyderabad particularly, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has spent a lot of public money to develop infrastructure, such as building She Toilets, arranging water ATMs etc, but we can’t access any information about the projects. There is simply zero accountability. We want to know the status of such projects.”

He added, “How can we seek information about them when we don’t know where to go and whom to approach. Shouldn’t a city that boasts of being a global city facilitate easy online access to information without any hassle?”

Vishal said that following his letter to the IT Principal Secretary, he was directed to another official, who reportedly told him that they were collating information from all departments to implement an RTI website. “The officer told me that they were in the process of collecting data from all the government offices a year ago, but there has been no outcome yet,” Vishal said.

Like Vishal, another city-based activist, SQ Masood, said that he had filed a petition requesting the government to develop an RTI website for the convenience of citizens. However, nothing has happened, he said. He fumed on Twitter, “We have technology for everything except transparency and accountability.”

The Telangana government has been largely lethargic in providing citizens easy access to matters of governance. Very recently, it established a portal for the State Women’s Commission, allowing women to file complaints and monitor their progress online. This development was a result of two years of relentless efforts by activists, who initiated a Change.org petition among other campaigns.

 

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