Will private firms fall under public RTI?

RTI activist writes to President and PM requesting public-private partnership projects to be brought under the Act, so that scams can be curbed and transparency encouraged

Taking issue with incidents where consortiums implementing projects in Maharashtra under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model with the state government have refused to give information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI), activist Anil Galgali has written a letter to President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requesting them to bring all consortia working on PPP projects under the purview of the Act.

This comes after Galgali was refused information by a private power supply company which supplies electricity to Mumbaiites in the eastern and western suburbs. The company said it was a private body and therefore, the Act did not apply to it.

Galgali, who is also the chairman of an non-governmental organisation Athak Seva Sangh, under whose banner the letter has been sent, said, "Since projects carried out by the private sector companies are of vital public interest, information about them must be made public. There are chances that the private companies may misuse the authority given to them while carrying out these projects and make money through illegal means. This creates room for scams. RTI is an effective tool to curb corruption. Hence, I request that all PPP projects across the country and their consortia be brought under the purview of the Act."
He adds, "In 2009, the Bhoomipoojan (land-blessing ceremony) of the Metro Line II between Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd (32 km) was carried out by President Patil, but till date, the actual work is yet to begin. If private firms working in partnership with the government on the PPP model are brought under the RTI Act, any layman would be able to get information on why the actual work has not started even two years after its Bhoomipoojan."

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