That the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is not flush with money is known. It had to pledge some plots of land to return the initial deposits of applicants who did not get sites in Kempegowda Layout Phase 1.
The BDA, however, is ready to spend some extra money to filter information to people under the Right to Information Act (RTI).
It has appointed a retired official of the Karnataka Government Secretariat Training Institute as its RTI consultant on a contract basis.
The post was created in August 2016 with the specific purpose of “advising” the agency in dealing with RTI applications. The BDA pays the consultant Rs 60,000 a month. RTI activists say that unlike in the past, the BDA has now been denying information swiftly without even going through the files.
The appointment of the consultant came to the fore when many people found that the BDA had rejected their RTI applications citing random orders of the Supreme Court and the high court on RTI queries.
“The BDA has several sections and each section has a designated information officer as per the RTI Act rules. In some cases, the BDA commissioner is the appellate authority to file an appeal. When this is the case, it has emerged that RTI applications with queriers on certain sensitive matters are passed through this particular consultant. Based on the opinion given by this consultant, applications are accepted or rejected by the designated information officer,” said Saidatta, an RTI activist.
It could be recalled that the BDA had denied information on the controversial steel bridge project, saying it was “private” and “not in the public interest”.
The RTI application had sought details of the tender notification for the project, the companies which took part in the tendering process and the price quoted by them to build the steel flyover.