Thursday, January 8, 2009

A shameful saga (RTI ignored)


I had submitted an application to the State Public Information Officer, Office of the District Magistrate on 19Aug2008 (under the Right to Information Act 2005) seeking certain information as regards Disaster Management in the Darjeeling District. After taking up the issue with the State and National Information Commissions and after the State Commission served them a show cause notice (see blogs of 06Dec08 and 01Jan09), I was finally faxed a reply to my RTI application,almost 5 months after I filed my questionnaire (Copy of FAX is reproduced above as EXHIBIT 1)
I have reproduced the questions which I asked and the replies (in red Italics)recd below:-

The reply to my RTI application makes a mockery of both Disaster Management and the RTI Act2005. Undoubtedly we will be pursuing this issue further.

Office of the District Magistrate,
Darjeeling Date : 19Aug2008

Application under Right to Information Act 2005

Kindly provide the following information with respect to landslide hazard prevention and mitigation in Darjeeling District:-

1) Was a survey carried out by the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) to determine the exact extent of damage due to landslides and identify high risk areas in Darjeeling district following the exceptionally heavy rainfall in the first week of Sep2007?
If “YES”, please furnish details and findings
If “No”, please give reasons.

No, DDMA was formed in this district till date. But survey on landslide areas in Kalimpong Sub-Division
was held several times.

2) Please furnish details of any landslide prevention work done in high risk populated areas (such as Alaichikhop, Dr Graham’s dispensary area in Kalimpong and Harsing, Lebong in Darjeeling and Baggaora in Kurseong)after Sep07 to mitigate/prevent any landslide that might occur ( this work would essentially have been short term fire-fighting measures such as jhora training / drainage repair etc).

Will be sent later on

3) Please furnish details of landslide prevention and mitigation work carried out in Darjeeling district in the last 5 years.

Will be sent later on

4) Please specify for the last 5 years:-
a) Total fund allocation for Disaster Management in West Bengal.
b) Fund allocation to Darjeeling district for this purpose.
c) Amount spent on landslide prevention and mitigation.
d) Areas where major landslide prevention work was carried along with expense details and year when the
work was carried out.

a), b), c), d) under process

e) Details of landslide awareness programs carried out in the district by the DDMA.

Awareness programme relating to landslide was scheduled to be held by State Disaster Management Authority on 27.11.08. But due to unavoidable circumstances the programme could not be held.

5) Please furnish details of your short/ mid/ and long term plans regarding landslide hazard prevention and mitigations in the district in the future.

Landslide prevention work will be done by the respective departments as per G.O. No 128 PR dated 16.1.08 (copy enclosed) and this has been informed to all concerned vide this office Memo No. 121/DMS dated 28.3.08

I am depositing Rs10/- as application fee.


praful rao

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