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PESHAWAR: The local government and rural development department has notified tehsil municipal officers and secretaries of village/neighbourhood councils as public information officers to enforce Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act, 2013.

According to Chief Information Commissioner Azmat Hanif Aurakzai, the purpose of designated PIOs at grassroots level is to alleviate the difficulties faced by the citizens, who are desirous of obtaining information of public importance from the public bodies, especially the village and neighbourhood councils, said a press release.

He said that over the past three and a half years, more than 10,500 citizens filed RTI requests with public bodies in the province with exception of the seven districts of Malakand division, which was part of Pata.

Out of these, around 7,000 requests were answered by Public bodies whereas around 4,000 citizens filed complaints regarding non-receipt of information.

The RTI Commission has successfully disposed of 3,405 cases in accordance with the law whereas the remaining are in the process of adjudication.

The Information Commission with the help of Directorate of IT has also introduced an electronic right to information system (E-RTI) for Peshawar district where citizens can file RTI requests through e-mail.

A citizen-facilitation centre has been established with a toll free telephone number 0800-57784. The centre has so far provided assistance to more than 1,500 citizens.

The press release said that a handbook was being prepared for the guidance of newly appointed PIOs to efficiently dispose of the requests of citizens.

It said that a series of training sessions for PIOs would be organised at district level.

Similarly, a plan has also been chalked out for creating awareness about the law, especially in the remote districts and rural areas of the province.

After issuance of the notification, the number of PIOs has been increased from 529 to 3,011 in the province.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2018