PESHAWAR: The electronic application system introduced by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Commission in Peshawar has failed to deliver the goods due to the lack of interest of both the commission and government departments.
The people has filed 784 requests for information regarding different departments since Sept 2015 but only 56 of them have got response until now, officials told Dawn.
The officials said the disinterest of the commission and the disregard of the RTI law by the government departments had rendered the system useless for the people.
The documents available with Dawn show the KP Information and Public Relations department, which is the parent department of the RTI Commission, wrote to the local government department on July 30 criticising it for ‘very slow response’ to the eRTI application system.
784 requests filed through the system since 2015 but 56 get response
The letter reads that reason for slow response from department’s public information officer (PIO) “might be less use of computers in disposing of the requests of citizens received through web portal, emails, or lack of expertise, or lack of interest of PIO to provide information electronically.”
It added that the tendency was certainly hampering digitisation of RTI process.
The letter asked the department to direct the PIO to make use of online portal for disposal of RTI requests of citizens.
The commission has also compiled a list of 19 government departments, who have performed badly in responding to the eRTI requests. The documents show that a total of 784 eRTIs were submitted to these 19 departments and of this only 56 were solved while 619 numbers were still pending.
Three government departments including revenue, irrigation and agriculture did not bothered to respond to even a single request for information out of a total number of 47 applications submitted to them.
Police, energy and power, finance, environment, establishment and home departments entertained one request each out of a total of 155 applications submitted to them.
Only elementary and secondary education department responses went into two digits as they solved 15 requests for information out of a total of 62 requests during three years. Ironically, Information Technology department could only respond to two requests out of 35.
On the other hand, there seems to be some discrepancy in the figures provided by the commission and those available on eRTI portal.
If the commission’s website is to be believed, then the number of pending requests stands at 904 and that of those responded 97.
It says 1320 requests have applications have turned into escalated requests while 141 were being process and in 192 cases the applicants have approached the commission with complaints for non-provision of information.
A source told Dawn that about a million were spent on designing the eRTI portal; however, it could not be put to use to due to negligence of commission and departments’ inefficiency.
He said the portal was being run on pilot basis even after three years its launch and only covered provincial department. He said that one of the main goals of PTI led KP government to strengthening e-governance; however, conversely the fate of eRTI shows that matters have gone significantly downhill.
The source said currently, the commission was entertaining email-based complaints.
“Ideally, in three years, they should have extended this system to whole of province but even today it is running in pilot mode,” he said.
Chief RTI commissioner Azmat Hanif Orakzai told Dawn that many departments were not responding to requests due to lack of equipment and trained personnel.
He said he had written to the information secretary to address the issue through the Performance Management and Reforms Unit of the chief secretary’s office.
He said the commission was also taking up the issue with the government universities.
Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2018