Local levels creating RTI friendly atmosphere

citizenship act

Kumar Chaulagain
KATHMANDU, Aug 19: Anyone reaching at information section of Tulsipur sub metropolis of Dang district can see the digital notice board, which shares different types of information about the activities of the sub-metropolis.

Information officer at the sub-metropolis, Jharendra Kumar Kharel said the digital notice board has facilitated the service seekers to get the quick information.

Kharel who reached the workstation after attending training on right to information (RTI) implemented the digital information sharing in order to make public the activities. It has gained huge popularity in the environs.

“After I learned the importance of transparency and openness and citizens’ access to information,” I took this decision, which has now eased the information seekers.

Similarly, information officer at Lamahi municipality of the same district, Lalmani Subedi, shared similar mechanism of information sharing.

The digital notice board promotes transparency, he argued.

“When I knew the role and responsibility of the information officer in line with RTI Act during the training I attended, I became able to share information promptly,” said another Krishna Gopal Chaudhari, who is the information officer at District Public Health Office, Bardiya.

These are some representative incidents how the RTI is being implemented and public agencies being transparent with the disclosure of public information.

As recent as some years back, it was difficult to get information from the ministries inside Singha Durbar, but the local levels have appointed the information officers and sharing information demanded by the public.

With the activism of various civil society organizations and the National Information Commission, the campaign for the expansion of the RTI since the introduction of the RTI Act over a decade has contributed a lot to make the public offices RTI friendly.

The RTI Act 2064 has provisioned the post of Information Officer at every public agency to share the information.

In this regard, finding of the study of the recent one year conducted by the Freedom Forum show that 500 local levels out of 753 across the country have been abided by the provisions in the RTI Act. They are disseminating information of public interest and importance through the appointments of Information Officers. Responses from remaining local units are awaited.

National Information Commission’s Commissioner Kiran Pokhrel described the appointments of information officers by local levels to dispatch information as a positive development towards the effective enforcement of RTI.

Those rights which were earlier confined into the Singa Durbar have now been devolved to the local levels and on this backdrop, information-friendly local levels were the need of the hour. According to him, the NIC is imparting training on RTI to people-elected representatives in all seven provinces under its mega campaign to make people aware for the effective implementation of the RTI.

The NIC is not in the position of monitoring all 753 local levels alone and the government has been already recommended for forming the province-level body of NIC.

“RTI remains as the fundamental rights of citizens and it is unalienable rights of the people that they could seek, demand and receive information about people holding the posts or of public importance,” asserted FF Executive Chief Taranath Dahal.

The RTI is one of the strong pillars of democracy and a campaign was launched following the 2006 people’s movement for the formulation and implementation of the RTI and aspirations were being met.

He remembered the then Information and Communications Minister Dilendra Prasad Badu and his successor Krishna Bahadur Mahara whose commitments were of high significance to formulate the RTI.

Nepal is the first country in the entire South Asia which has constitutionally guaranteed the RTI as the people’s fundamental rights. But still, awareness level among the people about its significance is not sufficient and time has come to fill this gap.