Workshop held on RTI with VCs and VDBs at Kohima

KOHIMA, Oct 8: As a part of the Right To Information Week celebration, the Kohima District Administration organized a one day workshop/seminar at the DC’s conference hall, Kohima on 7th Oct. 2015.

Speaking on the theme ‘RTI and Village Administration’, the resource person, State Coordinator, Disaster Management, A.T.I. Kohima, Dr. Hovithal N. Sothu said that the main objective of the RTI Act was to create a practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure transparency and accountability of public authorities- to grant a statutory right to information for every citizen and to contain corruption. He said that under the Village Administration there are many schemes and the two important agencies/schemes are Village Councils (VCs)/Village Development Board (VDBs) and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Dr. Hovithal said the Commission has noticed that several VCs have been passing resolution not to file RTI without the knowledge or permission of the Village Council. However the Commission is constrained to take serious view of this illegal obstruction by a legally constituted body and threat to information seeker under the RTI Act, 2005. In this regard, he said that the Commission had written to the Government of Nagaland to take necessary steps against those Village Councils passing such ‘illegal’ resolutions. He also emphasized on the guidelines of MGNREGS which is the only scheme where RTI is in-built. He also informed that under Village level, the VDB Secretary is the PIO and Block Development Officer/Planning Officer is the Appellate Authority (AA) whereas in the Block Level the VDB Secretary is the APIO, BDO/PO is the PIO and the District Program Co-ordinator is the AA.

Emphasizing on what information a citizen can get or cannot get, Dr. Hovithal said that a citizen can get information from Government Departments and VCs/VDBs and NGOs which are substantially finance by the Government, however one cannot get information relating to sovereignty, security, integrity, strategic scientific and economic interests, relation with foreign States and incitement to violence etc. He also highlighted on the stakeholders in the implementation of the RTI Act and roles and responsibilities of PIOs and APIOs.

PIO and ADC Kohima, Lithrongla Tongpi in her keynote address expressed her appreciation and gratitude to the VCs and VDBs for their participation in the programme. Giving a brief introduction on RTI Act, she said that the RTI Act was enacted on 15th June 2005 and came into force on 12th Oct. 2005 which applies only to citizens of India covering whole part of India except the state of Jammu & Kashmir. She also gave a brief highlights on how to file RTI application and to whom it should be addressed.

APIO and SDO (c) Sadar Kohima, Kethosituo Sekhose chaired the programme. A Documentary Film on RTI entitled ‘ My Right My Voice’ produced by the Nagaland Information Commission was also screened during the programme.

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