Pune, 30th December 2023: In a swift response to recent controversies surrounding RTI disclosures and quality of responses, the Railway Board has enforced stricter guidelines to enhance transparency and maintain quality in handling RTI applications.
The shuffle in key positions within the Central Railway division has sparked attention as Swapnil D. Nila Sr., previously the Divisional Officer Manager (Sr. DOM) of Pune division, assumed the role of Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) on December 29, 2023. This transition comes after a brief stint by Dr. Shivraj Manaspure, who raised eyebrows with revelations about funds allocated for selfie points featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi cutouts through an RTI application, leading to his swift transfer within eight months of assuming office.
Following these developments, Milind K Deouskar, Secretary of the Railway Board, issued a comprehensive directive urging utmost caution and adherence to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. In his communication addressed to General Managers of Zonal Railways, Production Units, and Divisional Railway Managers across all divisions, Deouskar highlighted the need for improved response quality and timely disposal of RTI applications. He emphasized the gravity of maintaining organizational credibility and reducing the burden of appeals filed due to inadequate responses.
“In order to address the recent decline in the quality and timeliness of responses to RTI applications, it has been mandated that General Managers of Zonal Railways and Divisional Railway Managers shall personally oversee the approval of responses. Moreover, replies to first appeals under the RTI Act will require the endorsement of the respective General Managers and Divisional Railway Managers,” stated Deouskar in the missive.
The move aims to streamline the RTI application process, ensuring that the prescribed timelines for response disposal, as outlined in the RTI Act, are strictly adhered to. The directive seeks to prevent a surge in first appeals and subsequent appeals to the First Appellate Authority and Information Commission, ultimately upholding the integrity of the organization and its commitment to transparency.