`RTI Act an effective tool to improve governance`

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IMPHAL April 10: A democratic state requires an informed citizenry to contain corruption, voter have the right to know what developments their elected representatives have carried out.

Ch Birendra, state information commissioner while speaking as the chief guest at a one day workshop on RTI Act stated that through the Right to Information Act, the public can monitor the government.

The workshop was organized by the All Manipur Working Journalists`™ Union under the sponsorship of State Academy of Training at Manipur Press Club today. The inaugural session was attended by AMWJU president Khogendra Khomdram and commissioner of Arts and Culture Department, RK Nimai as the president and guest of honor respectively.

Birendra further stated that the working of the media and the RTI Act has similar objectives as both seeks information aimed at informing and empowering the masses.

The public needs to understand why the act is instituted and what contribution can be made by them as the Act helps in making government policies transparent which assures that politicians will be made answerable for their corrupt practices.

In a business session of the workshop, executive director of Human Rights Law Network Rakesh Meihoubam, general secretary of Macha Leima T Demona and former editor of Ireipak ,veteran journalist Irengbam Arun spoke as resource persons.

Arun stressed on the need for scribes to take advantage of the RTI Act stating that it can be used as an effective tool to promote investigative journalism. He stated that the nation has observed a bureaucratic rule silently for the last 50 years and the public has taken into stride that the workings of the government has to be kept secret, the taboo has been broken since the inception of the RTI Act and the act adds new meaning to the term `democracy`™ for empowering the public. He stressed that scribes need to apply to the Special Public Information Officer`™s on a repetitive basis to obtain information of government policies thus finding flaws and further highlight it to the public.

Macha Leima representative T Demona recounted her experiences while seeking information through RTI. She said that the public are mostly ignorant about the Act and those seeking information about implementation of government policies are targeted from many quarters. She herself has borne the brunt, deemed as a busybody and a nuisance by politicians and other officials alike, including one`™s locality. But, despite setbacks, she maintained that getting information is only the beginning as corrupt practices need to be highlighted in order to check the widespread corruption and the media must play their part effectively. While questioning the doubtful implementation of various government policies like MGNREGS , Indira Awaj Yojna,PDS etc., the concerned official always highlight percentage deduction by insurgents as the reason behind ,how much of that is a fact still remains a question, she said.

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