PIO and Applicants should combine rather than fight with each other
A workshop on “RTI and good governance” was organised by the Goa RTI Forum jointly with International Centre Goa. It was one of the rare occasions where PIOs present tried to put up their grievances while activists predominantly felt that many of the PIOs were wittingly or unwittingly responsible for the hindrance in the free flow of information.
Mr. Arjun Halarnkar, the Programme Manager of International Centre Goa (ICG) in his welcome remarks offered the support of ICG for regular monthly workshops and meetings regarding RTI. A RTI activist, Shrikant Barve, made a presentation on ‘RTI and good governance’ where he emphasised that due importance should be given to PIOs in official hierarchy. He pointed towards the need for an awareness drive for PIOs coupled with training of PIOs for better and effective dissemination of information. He also highlighted the failure of several government departments to update Citizen’s Charter.
Advocate Satish Sonak, a social activist, urged the PIOs not to take RTI merely as a duty but understand that they have a larger role. They are instrumental in empowering citizens and also themselves as the Act ensures that there was less stress on them to be part of corruption because of political or bureaucratic pressure from above. He also suggested a ‘PIOs forum’ which can take up issues like victimisation of PIOs, overburdening of PIOs, and other issues affecting their functioning and morale. He urged the applicants and public information officers (PIOs) to combine instead of confronting each other.