Village panchayat sets an example by using technology for transparency in governance
The gram panchayat of Bibipur in Haryana has started replying to applications filed under the RTI Act on e-mail free of cost for over a week now. The panchayat had been mulling over the rise in the number of RTI applications and decided to start replying to RTI queries that are sent to the official e-mail ID of the village (firstname.lastname@example.org) within two days of receipt. The implementation of the order has set a benchmark in governance, with the uploading of all the important documents of the panchayat on Facebook which are also made available on Whatsapp. The panchayat has replied to 17 queries in last week and has no RTI application pending with it.
In 2010, the village had launched its own website, www.bibipur.com, and now has a proposal to make the village WiFi-enabled for free access of the Internet for the villagers. The panchayat office with a range of 80 metres is already WiFi-enabled and plans to seek permission from the state panchayat department for making the village WiFi.
More than 300 RTI queries were replied to in the past 4 years by the village panchayat. The panchayat has put the audit reports, proposals, budget, bills, resolutions, photos and other paper work of various schemes on Facebook and all these are sent to more than 50 groups on Whatsapp. The village connects with 3,000 people on facebook while on Whatsapp, around 2,500 people are connected.
The issue of raising RTI queries online for getting replies online has received the attention of the Supreme Court. Refer to link - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/node/6579/edit