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RTI heat on food official

Darjeeling, Oct. 29: The West Bengal Information Commission has showcaused the Darjeeling district controller of food and supplies for failing to furnish information sought by a school teacher under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Janam Rai, a primary school teacher of Marybong Tea Estate, 17km from here, had filed an application with the commission on September 25 last year seeking copies of the government orders for subsidised kerosene rates and the quantity sanctioned per month both in rural and urban areas.

Rai had also wanted details of kerosene sanctioned to the workers of Marybong between April 2004 and September 2006 in the name of Bag Maya Tamang, the government-appointed kerosene distributor of the area.

“With the information I wanted to educate the workers about the actual kerosene rates and stop the smuggling of oil from the garden to urban areas. The details would also have helped to curb corruption in distribution of kerosene at the grassroots level,” said Rai.

The school teacher, however, claimed that he had to remind the district officials of his application on March 10 and March 21 this year. It was only after these reminders that the Darjeeling district magistrate referred the matter on April 17 to P. Mondal, the district controller of food and supplies posted in Siliguri.

The commission asked Mondal to dispose of Rai’s queries on May 25, soon after receiving the third reminder on May 19. The food and supplies department, however, failed to act on the directive prompting Rai to file his fourth reminder.

The commission then issued the showcause notice on October 1.

“The commission has decided to ask you to show cause for not providing the desired information to Shri Rai as per the RTI Act. You are also requested to prove that you have acted diligently and reasonably in disposing the case of Shri Rai,” the notice reads.

Sources said Mondal has replied stating that the office had “mis-filed” the document.

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