“Under the Right to Information Act (RTI), I queried the Maharashtra State Education Board about the selection procedure to appoint evaluators and moderators for board exams. Even though it is expected that the information should be furnished within a month, I received the data after 40 days. What I observed is that government offices are very passive while treating RTI applications and many even feel that citizens file an RTI to deliberately annoy them,” said city resident Ujwala Hatagle, a schoolteacher, who recently completed a special certificate course in RTI from Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), the administrative training institute of the government of Maharashtra.
With 682 students completing the course initiated by the institute and with each of them having to file two RTI applications at government offices, authorities at YASHADA will soon kick-start a project wherein the RTI cell of the institute will conduct an in-depth analysis of information secured from around 800 government offices across the state, collected by their students. The intention is to get an overview of how effectively various government offices across the state are implementing the RTI act.
The RTI course, which was started two years ago, has seen a lot of takers from across the state with the 20th batch currently in progress. As practical work, every student has to file RTI applications in any two government offices of their interest to get a dose of how to approach any office, how to take follow ups and how to use various sections of RTI.
“Till now we have generated data of around 800 government offices. As response to course is high from all across the state, the data collated would be from variety of government offices,” said Dadu Bule, the coordinator of the course.
Pralhad Kachare, director of RTI cell, YASHADA, said, “What details we have received so far through the medium of students pursuing RTI course is in the form of raw data. They have not approached government offices as researchers. That’s why our first task is to properly analyse all the data. After that we will process it with a special research software called SPSS.”
Like Hatagale, MiD-DAY also contacted another student who completed the course. Rohidas Tekale, a retired bank official from Patoda, district Beed, said, “I have filed four different applications. One of the applications was to find out the quantum of funds my village Yevalewadi has received under the Hariyali scheme of the rural employment scheme in the last two years. However, I was provided half information as the office did not furnish utilisation details of the said scheme.”