Ashutosh Shukla @scribeashutosh
Advertisements to create awareness on the RTI Act have been at an all-time low this year. As per an RTI reply, expenses on the advertisements till December 28, 2015, have been less than 20% of those spent in the previous fiscal.
The information, provided by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) that looks after the publicity of the Act at the Centre, was given when Pune-based RTI applicant Vihar Durve sought details of the expenses on ads at the central and state level, information on the RTI cell’s staff figures, and fines levied on public information officers among others.
The application was made on November 20 and comes days after dna reported how the prime minister’s office was not in sync with Modi’s speech at the RTI convention held last October.
As per the figures provided, from 2008-09 to 2013-14, expenditure on the Act’s publicity by the government has never been less than Rs5 crore, with even the lowest spending, which was in 2010-11, standing at Rs6.66 crore. However, Durve said, after Modi took over, ie from 2014-15, the expenditure has dipped starkly. (see box)
“They have increased salaries of MPs four-fold and seem to be having the money to build a new parliament building and for PM’s foreign trips, but nothing for the publicity of the Act that helps people fight corruption. It is surprising that no MP, including the Opposition, is even talking about increasing the expenses. There is mounting pendency in the central information commission, with no appointment of commissioners or their staff. All this only shows that both the ruling and opposition parties do not want transparency,” said Durve.