Skip to main content

Gujarat Information Commission raps SSNNL: Provide information in 48 hrs

CIC Balwant Singh
By Our Representative
In an order major policy implication, Gujarat's chief information commissioner (CIC) has said that officials of the Gujarat government must respond to a right to information (RTI) query involving “question of life and liberty” within 48 hours, instead of keeping things pending. And, the CIC added, if the entire information is not there, “the available information should be provided within 48 hours” while rest of it could be “furnished expeditiously.”
Responding to a complaint by Pankti Jog of the Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) over failure of the state body Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) to respond to a query of “untimely” release of Narmada canal waters into Banas river in North Gujarat, which led to the death of a woman, CIC Balwant Singh said in the order, “If the respondent is of the opinion that the matter on which information has been sought does not involve the question of life and liberty, he should, in his reply, clearly specify the reasons for the same.”
The order further said, if the official is of the opinion that the matter on which information has been sought “does not involve the question of life and liberty”, in that case also complainant should be told within 48 hours that “information shall be provided within the maximum period of 30 days”, as required by the RTI law.
Pankti Jog
Rapping the SSNNL for not acting in accordance with the RTI law, which insists under section 7(1) that reply to the complainant should be provided within 48 hours from the date of receipt of the application if it on questions concerning “life and liberty”, Singh has has now sought the reply of the SSNNL's public information officer (PIO) in writing “within seven days” as to “why penalty under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act be not imposed on him”.
Jog in her complaint dated January 6, 2015 to the Gujarat Information Commission had said that she had sought information under RTI on November 29, 2014 from the PIO, SSNNL, Gandhinagar and the local PIO of the SSNNL office in Radhanpur about the reason for the “untimely” release of Narmada canal waters into Banas river, which in turn flooded with saltpans of the Little Rann of Kutch.
The release of water, she said, “risked” the life of more than 1,000 families in the Santalpur area of the Little Rann. In fact, she claimed, the release of water into Banas river and the Little Rann of Kutch led to “a situation of disaster.”
According to Jog, the saltpan workers or agariyas “had to be evacuated from the Rann, and in the process, one mother died while delivering the baby while she was being taken out of the Rann in emergency.”
She said, “As no information was given by the SSNNL regarding the next release of water, and since there was no assurance that they will not release water without informing the people living in the Little Rann well in advance, the life of more than 1,000 families was at risk.”
Narmada water "destroyed" saltpans in November 2014
Giving details to Counterview, Jog said, “In our RTI application we had also sought information on who exactly ordered the release of water from Narmda canal into Banas river, whether the saltpan workers and villagers were told in advance about it, whether there is any timetable for the release of water, and why couldn't easily readable boards not be put up for such release.”
She added, “No sooner the RTI query was put up in November-end 2014, the SSNNL became alert and stopped the release of water. Meanwhile, we were orally told by relevant officials that they were instructed to release water by someone in the top, and they were only obeying orders. Obviously, the SSNNL official found it difficult to name this person.”

Comments

TRENDING

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.