Information regarding a project of construction of Kundra-Balangir Railway line in Orissa - PIO: file unavailable as it is destroyed - CIC: file related to a live project cannot be expected to be destroyed, reconstruct the file and provide the information
Information regarding a project of construction of Kundra-Balangir Railway line in Orissa – PIO: file unavailable as it is destroyed – Appellant argued that the project is still under implementation – CIC: file related to a live project cannot be expected to be destroyed, reconstruct the file in question and provide the requisite information to the appellant
1. The Appellant through his RTI application dated 12.07.2012 (identical in both the cases) sought certain information regarding a project of construction of Kundra –Balangir Railway line in Orissa which, according to the Appellant, was sanctioned in the year 1993 by the Planning Commission of India. The application included queries, such as was there any conditions of the Planning Commission of India with the State government of Odisha to do the earthwork for the construction work of KhurdaBalangir Railway line project before it was sanctioned, If yes then what was the condition to do the earthwork; was there any commitment to tender help from the Odisha Government in this regard? If yes, then please give the details; provide a copy of the letter of commitment of the Odisha Government; was there any letter written from the then Chief Minister of Odisha, Biju Pattanaik to the Planning Commission to do the earthwork from Jawahar Yojna, If yes, then what is the outcome and how it will be done onwards? Give the details and so on.
2. The CAPIO vide his letter dated 03.08.2012 forwarded the reply dated 01.08.2012 of the Director (Transport) to the Appellant which reads as follows: “…….It is intimated that the above mentioned Railwayline project was sanctioned by the Planning Commission in the year 1993. Transport Section which maintains the record of files has intimated that this being a 19 years old reference, the relevant file is not available in the section mainly because of the reason that the files/official records pertaining to the period prior to 2000 have been destroyed...”
3. Aggrieved by this reply, the Appellant filed an appeal dated 13.08.2012 before the Appellate Authority which the Appellate Authority decided vide his order dated 30.08.2012 endorsing the reply of the CPIO. He, however, informed the Appellant that the “document titled “Explanatory Memorandum on the Railway Budget for 201213” mentions at serial no. 133new line constructions (East Coast Railways) about this project and it is stated that Khurda roadBalangir (289 km) Railway line has a capital cost of Rs. 470.21 crore as per latest estimated cost and the approximate expenditure incurred on the project by the end of year 201112 is Rs. 206.14 crore. For the current year, i.e. 201213 a provision of Rs. 40 crore is made. The balance amount required for completion is Rs. 224.07 crore. This project is being executed by the Ministry of Railway from the funds provided by the Central Government (Budgetary Support).” The Appellate Authority also advised the Appellant to explore the possibility of collecting information in the issues from the Ministry of Railways. He also forwarded the Appellant’s original application along with appeal to the CPIO of Ministry of Railways.
4. The Appellant thereafter filed the present appeal before the Commission contesting the Respondents’ denial of information on the ground of non- availability of relevant file, which is related to an ongoing project.
5. During the hearing, the Respondents, while maintaining their stand that the file in question is not available with them, admit that the project (about which information has been sought) is still under implementation.
6. Having heard the submissions and perused the records, the Commission is not convinced of the Respondents’ plea that the file related to the project, which is admittedly under implementation, is not available with them. The reason (i.e. files/records prior to year 2000 have been destroyed) of non-availability of file in question mentioned by the CPIO in his reply dated 01.08.2012 is also not sustainable in the absence of any documentary evidence. In any case, file related to a live project cannot be expected to be destroyed.
7. In view of the above, the Respondents are hereby directed to reconstruct the file in question and provide the requisite information—to the extent it relates to the Planning Commission of India—to the Appellant within 4 weeks of receipt of this order.
Citation: Shri Hemanta Panda v. Planning Commission in Case No.CIC/SS/A/2013/000024 & 000707