Activities of Administrative Training Institute, West Bengal in general and as State Implementing Agency under UNDP Assisted Project for training and Capacity Building for Access To Information with reference to Right To Information Act, 2005.

  1. Activity at ATI, WB for Training & Capacity Building of SPIOs, Resource persons, NGO representatives and other officials dealing with and liable under RTI Act, 2005 started with two training programmes for three days each that were held on 19.6.2006 to 21.6.2006 and 26.6.2006 to 28.6.2006. The first programme was attended by 26 (Twenty-six) participants and the next one by 20 participants. These two were DoPT sponsored programmes and an amount of Rs.56,000=00 @ Rs.28,000=00 each for the purpose was lying unspent for some time since the previous year. Delay for administrative reasons at the end of the Nodal Department of the Government, i.e., P&AR Deptt. in finally notifying the Rules under the RTI Act and also General Elections to Bidhan Sabha in early June was the cause that withheld taking up of the project activities by ATI. Preparation for these two programmes and  other activities for sensitisation of the provisions of the Act, however, had started much earlier including preparation of  two training modules, one for three days and another for five days. Appreciating the top priority for training on and importance of the Act, Director, ATI had included in the training calendar for the year 2006-2007 (April, 2006 to March, 2007) of ATI way back in December, 2005 two 5-day training courses on RTI which got due approval of DoPT, Government of India. One of these two 5-day programmes has already been held from 11.09.2006 to 15.09.2006, attended by 29 trainees, out of which all 24 were SPIOs and the rest 05 being very senior members of State Commercial Tax Service in the ranks of Asstt. Commissioners and Dy.Commissioners. These three training programmes so far conducted, have been highly evaluated by the trainees. This apart, 18 officials including NGO representatives from districts and the State HQ were nominated to undergo training on RTI at YASHADA, Pune from 28.8.2006 to 30.8.2006 as State Resource Persons.

  2. An amount of Rs.5,00,000 again was placed by DoPT, GOI at the disposal of ATI to run the UNDP assisted 30 month Project as SIA in the State and mainly in two pilot districts of the State. Though the 30 month Project started technically in the month of January, 2006 the stated amount was actually received in the month of April and expenditure could not be started or proportionate amounts placed at the disposal of two pilot districts of Paschim Medinipur and Malda till the General Elections to Bidhan Sabha were over in the State in all respects in the month of June. However, this amount of Rs.5,000,00 has been spent and utilization for the amount has been sent.

  3. DoPT, GOI subsequently placed another amount of Rs.8,62,000.   This amount also has been entirely spent. 

  4. One RTI Cell at the HQ for the SIA known as the SIA-RTI Cell comprising seven members with the Additional Director, ATI as the Chairman and one Dy. Director & Nodal Officer, ATI as the Member-Secretary was constituted. So far seven meetings of the Cell have been held and the important decisions taken in the meetings have been implemented. As per these decisions:

i. 120 display boards measuring 3’ x 2’ each and containing    important provisions of the Act in Bengali were prepared and sent to all districts for display at conspicuous places near the district and sub-divisional headquarters and additionally all Block headquarters of the two pilot districts.

ii. One whole-day Seminar-cum-Workshop on RTI Act, 2005 was held on 28.8.2006 at ITC-Sonar Bangla where eminent speakers including one ex-Additional Secretary of GOI, ex-Additional Director, CBI and eminent journalists from print and electronic media addressed an august gathering of more than fifty participants including District Magistrates, Additional District Magistrates, District Nodal Officers for RTI Act and representatives from leading NGOs dealing in RTI matters. The programme passed off as a very successful event with an open House for discussion and question- answer session at the end. The Seminar-Cum Workshop was covered by AIR and Doordarshan and news of the programme was broadcast and telecast on the same day.

iii. One short film of 16 minutes’ duration on RTI purported to serve the dual purpose of training on RTI Act, 2005 and mass awareness campaign mainly at the grass root levels has been prepared and regularly used. The film, all roles for which have been played by 2004 batch WBCS probationers during their stay at ATI for their Foundation Training, is in Bengali with English sub-titles. The one-day Seminar-Cum Workshop on RTI on 28.8.2006 at ITC Sonar Bangla was started by screening of this film and was highly praised by the Chief Information Commissioner, West Bengal, Additional Chief Secretary, the Speakers and participants. This film has been multiplied in 500 copies and distributed for use by all Government Departments, training Institutes at Centre and State levels,  DMs, SDOs, BDOs and leading NGOs, Civic Forums etc.

iv. The RTI Act, 2005 has been translated in Bengali and printed in 5000 copies along with the translated version of the Rules, together with the original version of the Act & Rules in English for use as  training material and for distribution among Citizens’ Forums, NGOs, Panchayats, Municipalities for creation of mass awareness.  Copies in adequate number of this compilation have also been sent to all as noted at sub-para (iii) along with the CD by courier.

Two pilot districts have also constituted their own DIA-RTI Cells and are implementing various project activities in line and consultation with this Institute including training at the Regional Training Centers, mass awareness campaign through posters, leaflets, one day workshops etc.

  1. Two outreach training programmes of late have been conducted at Purulia and Darjeeling for exposing SPIOs/SAPIOs/District Resource Persons from line departments and the establishments of DMs/SDOs and BDOs to the provisions of RTI, 2005.  Both of these two programmes were for a two and half day duration.   The programme at Purulia was held from 22nd to 24th  November, 2006.   27 participants from two districts viz., Purulia and Bankura joined this programme out of that  9 joining from Bankura district.   The Additional Director and two Deputy Directors from ATI camped at Circuit house, Purulia from 21st to 24th November, 2006 and imparted the training to the participants which was a phenomenal success.   A similar outreach training programme was held at Darjeeling from 28.11.2006 to 30.11.2006 and 35 participants from the District of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar joined the programme.  5 faculty members from YASHADA, Pune  (National Implementing Agency) reported to Darjeeling and camped there to impart training to the SPIOs/SAPIOs and Government officials deputed by the respective District Magistrates to undergo the training.   This training programme has also been reported to be a notable success.

  2. For sensitizing members of public from all cross sections of society particularly the population living at the grass-roots level one information fair on RTI Act, 2005 was organized by Sudarshana Ladies’ Circle, Dum Dum, an all women, non-religious, non-political civic forum and was conducted from 4th to 15th January, 2007 at Sisubharati Krirangan, Dum-Dum as a part of  Dum-Dum Mela held every year by South Dum-Dum Municipality and Sports Council of Government of West Bengal jointly.   Sudarshana Ladies Circle came forward voluntarily to offer their services on no profit basis to organize and conduct the Mela on the RTI theme. Knowledge support and finance were only provided by ATI, West Bengal. The event was a remarkable success and the MIC, Transport, Sports and Youth Services of West Bengal, the Chairmen, South Dum Dum Municipality and thousands of men and women who visited the Stall and attended the RTI programmes highly spoke of the joint venture.

  3. Important provisions of RTI Act, 2005 have been put on as advertisement in four important daily newspapers viz., Aajkal, Ganashakti,  Pratidin and Bartaman  during the last festive occasion of Dewali and were simultaneously displayed on T.Vs. with voice overs in three prominent T.V. Channels viz.  DD Bangla,  E-TV Bangla and Aakash Bangla for information of all about the RTI legislation. 

  4. 50 live performances of talking doll shows on RTI theme by one eminent Ventroloquist are being held in two pilot districts of Paschim Medinipur and Malda and also other far-flung districts of Purulia and Bankura for creation of awareness about the provisions and benefits of RTI Act, 2005 in simple and lucid vernacular language for understanding of the poor underprivileged and ill-informed, people in particular, living at the remotest villages of the districts. 14 of such shows have already taken place in Paschim Medinipur and North 24 Parganas. Another 19 shows will be held in Paschim Medinipur by the end of February.   

  5. One half day Seminar from 2 p.m to 6 p.m for multi-stakeholders and service providers liable under RTI Act, 2005 was held at the Darbhanga Hall of Calcutta University on 7th January, 2007 in association with Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) West Bengal Regional Branch and Bose Academy of Career Advancement where 08 (Eight) eminent speakers addressed the audience on important aspects of Right to Information. Among the speakers were present one leading journalist, three academicians from Jadavpur University, Calcutta University and NUJS, Kolkata and two senior, retired bureaucrats. The members of audience, numbering about 70, comprised of members of IIPA, W.B. Political Science Association, members of faculty from ATI, West Bengal and Bose Academy of Career Advancement. Feedback about the event was broadcasted by AIR, Kolkata during News, the next day.

  6. The important provisions of RTI Act with voiceover for 20 seconds spot each totaling 8 such spots daily were broadcasted on ‘Incoda T.V.’ at all Metro Stations of the city for one month from 13.11.2006 to 12.12.2006.  

  7. Voice broadcast on AIR daily during an important time slot in the morning and from Kolkata Station of AIR was arranged from 06.12.2006 to 05.01.2007 sensitizing listeners of the benefit of RTI Act, 2005  as a part of on going mass awareness campaign on the RTI Act. 

  8. One other outreach training programme was held at district headquarter, Barasat, North 24-Parganas consisting of 52 officers from different level of administration from North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas and Howrah for two days (19th & 20th December, 2006) and a team of faulty from ATI conducted the training on both the days with active response from the participants. 

  9. One full day training cum workshop was held at ATI on 18.1.2007 for top level officials of Calcutta State Transport Corporation where a total of 30 (Thirty) participants including the Managing Director, the Chief Mechanical Engineer, Director of Operations, Chief Accounts Officer, Dy. Managing Directors and Law Superintendents among others were present. The programme was extremely interactive, well received and highly evaluated by the participants.

  10. One 5-day training programme on RTI Act, 2005 for Gram Panchayat Secretaries and Executive Assistants of Paschim Medinipur and Malda was held at ATI from 05.2.2007 to 09.2.2007.  A total of 37 participants, 19 belonging to Malda and 18 belonging to Paschim Medinipur joined the programme.

  11. In a recently concluded GOI sponsored training programme on “Combating Corruption” where a major thrust was placed on RTI Act, 2005 as a primary tool for good governance, 14 very senior level trainees rated this topic as ‘most helpful’. This deserves to be acknowledged and documented as a best practice.

  12. PUBLIC (People United for Better Living In Calcutta), a leading NGO headquartered at Kolkata organised a panel discussion on RTI on the topic “Right To Information Act, 2005 – making it work in West Bengal” at Max Muller Bhavan on 17.02.2007 under financial assistance and knowledge support from ATI, West Bengal.   Sri R. N. Das, CIC, Gujarat, Sri Arun Bhattacharya, CIC, West Bengal, Justice Aniruddha Bose of Calcutta High Court joined the programme as panelists and eminent moderator, Ms. Manidipa Banerjee acted as the anchor for the discussion.   Ms. Aditi Roy Ghatak, renowned contributor to English journals and dailies was also present as a discussant.   About 250 invitees attended the programme, which lasted for full two hours.  The NGO is also distributing 100000 copies of leaflets on major provisions of RTI Act, 2005 among the visitors of Kolkata Book Fair funded by ATI, West Bengal.   They are also setting-up ‘Call Center’ for information dissemination on RTI.

  13. Between April, 2006 and August, 2006 DoPT placed a total amount of Rs. 13.62 lakh in two spells i.e. Rs. 5.00 lakh in April and Rs. 8.62 lakh in August for implementation of the UNDP assisted project named “Capacity Building for Access To Information with reference to Right To Information Act, 2005”.  The entire amount has been expended by ATI, West Bengal and U.C. submitted.   Out of this amount of Rs. 13.62 lakh, Rs. 2.76 lakh has been released in favour of Paschim Medinipur and an amount of Rs. 1.98 lakh in favour of Malda for the implementation of project activities at their level, both being pilot districts.   Paschim Medinipur has expended Rs. 1.26 lakh and has submitted U.C. to ATI, West Bengal.

  14. Two outreach Training-cum-Workshops covering one whole day each have been conducted at Malda on 27.02.2007 at the district headquarter and  at Berhampore, Murshidabad on 01.03.2007 respectively.  Representatives from Government administration, NGO and Panchayats from Uttar Dinajpur and Dakshin Dinajpur joined workshop at Malda numbering 42. 44 representatives from Government administration, NGO and participants from Panchayats were present at Murshidabad the  training-cum-workshops were conducted by a team of faculty from ATI with infrastructural supports by the Regional training Centres of the two districts and both were phenomenal success