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Tamil Nadu Right to Information Campaign
15 days of learning & working on the RTI Act in Tamil Nadu
10th July to 25th July, 2006
The Tamil Nadu Right to Information campaign was initiated with the objective to seek efficient implementation of the RTI Act 2005. The Campaign is organized by a coalition of organizations including workers unions, ngos, womens organisations, consumer organisations, voluntary collectives, community groups and public-spirited individuals. The campaign addressed a media conference at Chennai on 15.06.2006 and has already conducted a state level planning meeting on 17th June and a state level training workshop on 24th June 2006.
The Tamilnadu Right to Information Campaign aims to assert community and individual efforts to access information and demand accountability and transparency from public authorities. It is also meant to demonstrate the positive outcomes resulting from a situation where informed people are able to influence decisions. It plans to do this by:
1. Educating people about their constitutional rights to information and informed decision-making by highlighting the relevance of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and how to actually use this law for day-to-day issues faced by them as individuals and members of communities or organisations.
2. Enabling people to use the Act to access information crucial to controlling the decisions that affect their rights and daily lives.
The Tamil Nadu Right to Information Campaign will be organising intensive camps between the 10th and 25th of July 2006 in Chennai and several other districts of Tamil Nadu. These camps will organise seminars training and clinics of the RTI Act for all persons and the media. The camps and clinics will assist persons in filing requests/appeals, providing details of the PIO’s of various Departments, etc. guiding them in ask the most important questions that will have wider value for the neighbourhood or village. The camp should house volunteers who will be trained on all of the above issues. In such camps can be organised by an organisation group of volunteers in Chennai different zone of the city, in all district head quarter, important cities and towns. Camps can also be organised at the Taluk level, or in front of the Collectors office, Thashildar Office, Courts, etc. It is also suggested to need such camps / clinics at places where people organisations are actually struggling against various in districts, infrastructure projects etc.
The Tamil Nadu Right to Information Campaign also proposes to involve the Government and the State Information Commission during this camp and hope they will provide their full support and co-operation by participating in the various programmes organised during these 15 days.
On the first day of the camp i.e. the 10th of July (or a date suitable in for your camp) the TNRTIC suggested that an inaugural function is planned inviting the members of the Information Commissioner, the District Collector and other eminent persons. During the same day we expect the coordinating organisations at the district to organise similar functions & meetings to invite the media and follow it up with regular meetings and information with the media.
After the inaugural as part of the TNRTIC you could hold camps in your respective district. The mode and methods of conducting these camps could be as per the convenience of the co-ordinating organisation.
From the Chennai Co-ordinating Organisations
We will reach you for the camp you are conducting the following material by the 6th or 7th July 2006.
- A Workbook and Trainers Guide on RTI (50 copies)
- The Right to Information Act 2005 (Tamil) 50 copies
- Model copies of a Public Information Pamphlet.
- Model copy of slogans for banners and key slogans.
- Publicity material about the campaign and the camps / clinics.
- Material to be displayed at camps such as questions about the RTI procedure etc.
One year since the passage of this Act, the implementation in Tamil Nadu like various other states in the country, leaves much to be desired by the citizens and civil society at large. Procedural uncertainties, lack of knowledge on the Act amongst the Public Information Officers (PIOs) lack of political will by the ruling governments to ensure the implementation of the act and inadequate infrastructure and necessary rules delays and frustration amongst citizens. In fact, these reasons have deterred many citizens from using this powerful tool in order to address their day-to-day difficulties and organisations from accessing public documents lying with the government and Public Authorities.
The Chennai based organisations of the campaign are taking efforts to involve advertising agencies, television channels, radio like Radio Mirchi, Suryan and AIR etc.,
Like CNN IBN, NDTV, DD Pothigai and Vijay TV. You could please go ahead to involve the Print media in a big way and TV channels like Sun TV, Jaya TV, Raj TV, Win TV, AMN TV, etc.,
It is necessary that the awareness week and further actions are done in the name of Tamil Nadu Right to Information Campaign supported by the concerned coordinating organisation if you consider it necessary with district level contact address.
Some of the activities that could be carried out during the camps are:
· Give wide publicity to the camps in your area. You could begin your camp with a rally involving the students and representatives of various organisations.
· Invite a very wide range or organisations from students associations, teachers associations, school & college managements, government employees, trade unions, organisations of persons with disabilities, social movements (women, dalit, youth, adivasi, unorganised workers, industrial workers, etc.)
· Launch the camp with the collector or senior government official, eminent persons of your area as chief guests.
· The camp should be held preferably in a central location or in places suggested above earlier. Organise awareness programmes like training on how to use the RTI Act for citizens in your area for different groups on different days.
· Organise RTI clinics at the camp for those persons who wish to write out applications for information. Train them also to assist others in formating questions for information required.
· Organise workshops for print and electronic media and other NGO’s in your area.
· Provide a list of Public Information Officers (PIOs) and Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) in your district / taluk level.
· Provide a copy of Workbook and Trainers Guide on RTI for the leaders.
· Provide a copy of the campaign poster to organisations.
· Use charts display models, banners on the law and how to use the law at the camps.
· Provide assistance to citizens in writing RTI requests to any public authority.
· Distribute widely RTI public pamphlets at the camp and give contact addresses for follow up. Encouraging persons who have drafted applications at the camp to provide a xerox copy and to build up the campaign in there local area.
· Organise camps in areas which are being affected by "Destructive Developmental" projects, so that the affected people could apply for information regarding the project.
· Organise camps for specific groups such as tribals, unorganised labourers, organised labourers, farmers, fishing people, dalits, students, women, transgender, etc. so that they are aware of their rights under RTI and obtained the skills for applying for information.
· Invite Public Information Officers and Assistant Public Information Officers and other government officials to the camps and also sensitize than on the RTI Act. Request government officials to talk about what they have done toward implementing this RTI Act.
· Organise plays/drama on the importance of RTI
· Prepare posters on RTI act and distribute during the camp. Wherever possible paint the walls with RTI slogans.
· Volunteers of the camp could actually guide persons writing applications at the camp to go submit their applications and return to the camp to share their experiences. Details of the procedure for appeal could then be discussed.
· The campaign begins on 10th July to 25th July. Do also plan for a valedictory function. In many places organisations may prepare to organise the campaign for only a week or 3 days or 10 days this is left to the strength of the local organisation.