Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Activities (2006-07)
The initiatives taken by Odisha Information Commission during 2005-06 to create awareness on the Right to Information Act, 2005 and Odisha RTI Rules, 2005 framed thereunder among the public servants as well as the people at large were intensified during 2006-07. Interactive workshops and Seminars at the level of Revenue Divisions, all the Districts, Blocks of the State and all Gram Panchayats were organized during the year with active support of the officials at the different levels. Budgetary provision for the purpose had been made by the State Government under the Plan Budget.
Revenue Divisional Level Workshop in Central Division, Cuttack
(A) District Level Workshops
During the financial year 2005-06, funds @ Rs.10,000/- were placed with the District Collectors of the 12 districts of the State. Soon after receipt of the budgetary allocations for 2006-07, the State Commission placed funds with the remaining 18 districts for organizing district level workshops on RTI Act, 2005. Workshops were thereby conducted in all the 30 districts attended by people from different segments of the society like community based organizations, NGOs, academicians, members of the Bar Media, leading citizens, opinion mobilizers, people’s representatives, SHG federations besides APIOs, PIOs and First Appellate Authorities.
District Level Workshops on RTI
(B) Block Level Workshops
Odisha Information Commission placed funds @ Rs. 5000/- per Block with Collectors of all the districts of the State for organizing Block level workshops on RTI Act, 2005 and Odisha Rules framed thereunder. A total amount of Rs.15,70,000/- (Rupees fifteen lakh seventy thousand) have been placed with the Collectors of the State for the purpose.
(C) Gram Panchayat Level Workshops
Odisha Information Commission decided to organize workshops on provisions of Right to Information Act, 2005 and the Odisha RTI Rules, 2005 framed thereunder at the levelof Gram Panchayats with a view to sensitizing the newly elected people’s representatives of Panchayati Raj institutions as well as Government officials, opinion leaders, academicians, members of media/NGOs, legal luminaries and others. Since most of the developmental programmes of the Government meant for the common people are being implemented at the level of Gram Panchayats, organization of such workshops immensely facilitated implementation of the programmes/ schemes in a transparent manner. The process has begun, and the State Commission intends to intensify its efforts in this area. In the first instance, the State Commission decided to organize workshops on the RTI Act, 2005 and the Odisha RTI Rules framed thereunder in 11 districts of the State which are not included in the NREGS such as (i) Angul (ii) Balasore (iii) Bargarh iv) Bhadrak (v) Cuttack (vi) Jagatsinghpur (vii) Jajpur (viii) Kendrapara (ix) Khurda (x) Nayagarh and (xi) Puri.
The NREGS districts have their own training programmes as a part of social audit activity.
(D) Soochana Shibirs
The State Commission organized 10 day Awareness-cum-Assistance Programme called “Soochana Shibirs” in all revenue district headquarters and six important towns namely, Berhampur, Bhubaneswar, Jeypore, Paradeep, Rourkela and Talcher. The “Shibirs” were intended to render necessary assistance to the general public seeking information from various Public Authorities as defined u/S 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.
“Soochana Shibirs” were organized under the leadership of the concerned District Collectors with the assistance of NGOs nominated by them within the district through consensus. Prior to organization of “Soochana Shibirs”, Resource Persons were imparted training (training of trainers) at the State level at the State Institute for Rural Development (SIRD), Bhubaneswar for three days.
Altogether 108 volunteers were trained on the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 and Odisha Rules framed thereunder. Expenditure for the purpose amounting to Rs.89, 867/- was borne by the State Commission. The trained resource persons returned to their respective Districts where they in turn trained about 20-25 volunteers at each district level for the purpose of rendering necessary assistance during the “Soochana Shibirs” held from November 10 to 19, 2006.
This created a “multiplier effect”. An amount of Rs.12, 60,000/- @ Rs.35,000/- per Shibir (Rs.20,000/- for managing Shibir +Rs.15000/- for Shibir volunteers’ training) were placed at the disposal of the concerned District Collectors and the ADM, Rourkela.
They were instructed to make necessary payment to the concerned NGOs who organized the “Soochana Shibirs” on receipt of vouchers from them along with representative photographs and reports regarding the awareness created and suggestions received during the period. The “Soochana Shibirs” in all the 36 places were hugely successful creating a great deal of enthusiasm as well as awareness among the general public regarding the provisions of Right to Information Act,2005 and the Odisha Rules framed thereunder. This was evident from the flood of applications received under Sections 18 and 19 of the Act by the State Commission.