RTI plea not answered for two years


Minor Irrigation Department has failed to furnish information on encroachment of tanks in the taluk, even after  two years of filing an application under SHRINKING SPACE? A view of Amani tank in Kolar. DH PHOTO

Janaganamana People’s Forum had submitted an application to the Executive Engineer of Minor Irrigation Department, Kolar, on June 6, 2007 seeking information on Amani tank, Kodikannuru tank and Ammerahalli tank in the taluk. The Forum had sought to know the total extent of these tanks and their command area, the maps, the encroached area and the reasons for not clearing the encroachment.

Incomplete reply
The Department, on Aug 29, 2007 replied that the survey of Kodikannur tank has been completed and the details of encroachment would be furnished once the tahsildar submits the report. Admitting encroachment in Amani tank, the reply stated that the tahsildar has been asked to depute a surveyor to estimate the extent of encroachment and the information in this regard would be submitted soon after the completion of the survey. The information on Ammerahalli tank was not furnished since it comes under the jurisdiction of City Municipal Council. The CMC, however, furnished information to the applicant, subsequently. However, the survey is being ‘carried out’ till this day, and the Forum is yet to obtain the information it had sought.

The three tanks on which the information was sought figure in the list of 19 tanks identified for the Upper Bhadra ‘A’ scheme. The scheme proposes to desilt minor tanks in Chitradurga, Chikmagalur, Tumkur and Kolar districts and supply water to such tanks.

Complaints
RTI Act provides that the Public Information Officer should furnish information sought by the public within 15 days of submitting the application. Since the Minor Irrigation Department failed to furnish complete information, the Forum approached the State Information Commission in September 2007. During the hearing, it came to the notice of the Commission that the information officer - executive engineer in this case, had given wrong information. Though the commission took serious note of the issue, the direction was given rather late. On September 21, 2008, it directed the Department to furnish the information sought by the applicant as well as the Commission, within 15 days. But the saga does not end here. As the information never reached the Forum, it again filed a complaint to the State Information Commission on June 2, 2009.

Amidst this, the Department got the tanks surveyed by Precision Survyes, a Bangalore-based private agency. It is said that the tahsildar has refused to certify the survey conducted by a private agency.

“The Department has no clear picture of the tanks identified for a major irrigation project such as the Upper Bhadra. The three tanks in question have been encroached upon in the last two years. However, no details are available on encroachment and neither efforts are being made to prevent it. The tanks may disappear if encroachment is allowed to continue,” said M G Prabhakar, the president of the Forum.

The hearing on the complaint before the State Commission has been posted to July 30.

Chronology
* Janaganamana Peoples Forum submits application on June 6, 2007
* Minor Irrigation Department furnishes incomplete information on Aug 29
* Complaint before State Information Commission in September, 2007
* Department directed to furnish information within 15 days, on Sep 21, 2008
* One more complaint before State Commission on June 2, 2009;
* Hearing on July 30

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