Wednesday, October 17, 2007


GANGTOK, October 15: A statewide awareness campaign on the Right to Information Act was launched today afternoon here at the Titanic Park.
Organised by the Accounts and Administrative Training Institute (AATI), the campaign featured a power point presentation on the basic features of RTI Act, which includes its definition, extent, commencement, RTI and obligations of public authority, appointment of Public Information Officers (PIOs), applications of information, disposal of applications, exemption for disclosure, severability and many others related with the act. Also included in the campaign was the distribution of pamphlets highlighting on the information about RTI Act in Nepali language to the local populace. The AATI has also organized campaigns of such kind at Karfectar, Jorethang, South Sikkim and Rhenock in East Sikkim.
The State Nodal Officer for RTI Act in Sikkim, Bhim Thatal while speaking to mediapersons stated that the hitch in receiving the allocated funds from the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) has been one of the main reasons behind the delay in implementing the Act here in the state, which actually was supposed to start in 2006.
Despite the fact that the implementation of the RTI Act has been delayed in Sikkim for about one year, we will ensure that the designated task of implementing the same Act in the State is completed by the end of 2010, Thatal added.
He also added that they will approach the Panchayats and Block Development Offices to disseminate the information of RTI Act soon after the Panchayat elections are over.
The two-day long campaign will continue till October 16 here at Titanic Park.
The Government of India enacted the Right To Information Act on June 15, 2005 with a declaration that the public authorities should implement the same Act in the country within 120 days owing to failure on the part of the latter (the public authorities) to fulfill upon certain eligibility criteria particularly the appointment of PIO’s under section 41 b of the act.
The designated time duration of 120 days came to a close on October 15, 2005 thereby opening up of floodgates for the RTI Act to come into full force from the same year.
The RTI Act is a fundamental right and therefore acts as a medium to realize the right to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution.
So far a total of 56 countries in the world including India have implemented the RTI Act.
In India, the duos-Central for Good Governance in Hyderabad and Yaswant Rao Chavan Academy of Development Administration in Pune has been designated as the National Implementing Agency to implement the RTI Act under the sponsorship of UNDP.
The Government of India through the training section of Department of Personnel has been chosen as the monitoring agency to monitor the UNDP programme in the country.
Likewise in the case with Sikkim, the AATI is the State Implementing Agency for the RTI Act with an allocated fund of Rs 20 lakhs (Rs 6 lakhs for State component and Rs 7 lakhs each for the District component).
It may also be mentioned here that owing to more population and the greater need for awareness campaign related to the Act, the East and South districts of the State have been identified under the district component