Multifaceted information relating to Thermal Power Station alongwith financial, operational, emission & other parameters for years 1999 to 2014 through multiple applications - PIO denied information u/s 7(9) & other sections - CIC: denial upheld
Information sought and background of the case:
Vide RTI application dated 01.09.2014, the appellant sought multifaceted information relating to Badarpur Thermal Power Station alongwith financial, operational, emission & other parameters for years 1999 to 2014. The appellant sent as many as 17 identical RTI applications seeking data regarding NTPC power projects at Badarpur, Kahalgaon STPP, Tanda, Singrauli STPS, Rihand, Korba STPP, Vindhyachal STPP, Farakka STPS, Sipat STPP, Mounda STPP, Barh STPP, Simhadri STPP, Talchar, Ramagundam STPP, Talchar STPP, Unchahar and Dadri Super Thermal Power Stations; which are annexed to the memorandum of appeal. The CPIO denied disclosure invoking Section 8(1)(d) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the RTI Act, 2005. The FAA upheld the decision of the CPIO.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing:
Both parties are present and heard. The appellant states that information as sought is not confidential and disclosure thereof would not prejudice the commercial confidence of the company. He states that the respondents furnish the information sought besides other details to Central Electricity Authority and CERC etc. and hence, the information is disclosable. He also states that details of some of the years are available in the annual reports of CEA as displayed on their website as well as CERC.
Upon a specific query put to the appellant by the Commission, he states to be pursuing research on thermal power sector of India as a part of his doctoral studies with Delhi University. Per contra, Sh. Yadav, CPIO states that the information sought contains vital parameters which are commercially confidential, disclosure whereof would be disadvantageous for NTPC. He states that the aforesaid parameters have a proximate nexus with tariff calculation, whereupon various power conglomerates compete on tariff based bidding. He vehemently contends that any disclosure of information would put NTPC in a disadvantageous position visàvis private competitors. He further draws the attention of Commission towards decision of a coordinate bench in file no. CIC/LS/A/2013/001310, wherein ‘Heat Rate’ as determining the efficiency of a boiler in a thermal plant has been held as commercially confidential parameter. Similarly, he relies on a decision of this bench in CIC/RM/A/2014/001315YA wherein the sanctioned man power within a power plant was held to be commercially confidential parameter. In addition, he states that disclosure of information sought in the format as desired by the appellant is not readily available and compilation would take enormous effort attracting Section 7(9) An information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question. of the RTI Act. He states that the public authority would be unduly burdened in compiling mammoth volume of data merely for facilitating research needs of an individual. Upon a query by the Commission, Sh. Yadav states that elaborate information as regards the statistical aspects of power generation is available on the web portal of NTPC, which would sufficiently serve the purpose of the appellant.
After hearing parties and perusal of record, the Commission finds merit in the contention of the respondents. The Commission concurs with the stand taken by the CPIO and upholds the order impugned. The appeal is dismissed being devoid of merit.
Citation: Shri R.K.Jain v. National Thermal Power Corporation in F. No.CIC/CC/A/2015/001316YA