With multi-rises mushrooming in the City, the State Information Commission (SIC) has directed the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) to publish details about major housing projects before giving them a go-ahead.
In an order which could be of immense relevance to the citizens, the Commission observed that such a measure would give people adequate opportunity to air their grievances with the development authority.
Invoking Section 4(1) (c) and (d) of the RTI Act which stipulates that every public authority is duty-bound to publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies and announcing the decisions which affect public, the panel felt that publishing the details of the project is necessary in view of the large-scale multi-storey and high-rise residential buildings being built in and around the City.
The SIC order came after the BDA sat over the information sought by one Somesekhar Das Bhatta Mishra on the Cosmopolis housing project being executed by real estate firm Assotech Pvt Ltd. When Bhatta Mishra filed an appeal with the SIC, it got an inquiry carried into the delay by the Member, Planning of BDA. The Commission was informed that since the Planning Branch of BDA was undergoing renovation, records had been shifted to Land and Architecture sections where locating the records was difficult.
Though the Commission felt that the reasons behind the delay were without any mala fide intentions, it observed that not only important facts about policies and decisions should be published by BDA, it must also provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to the affected people.
The Commission’s order is expected to bring in transparency about real estate projects in the City where their exponential growth has had an impact - both positive and negative - on urban infrastructure and environment of the Capital.
Over the past seven years, the RTI applications have jumped 100 times in Odisha, a record of sorts. From 447 applications in 2005-06, the applications number went past 42,036 in 2009-10. Last year, 35,649 applications were received out of which 34,503 were disposed of at a rate of 96.78 per cent. Of them, information was supplied to 86.59 per cent cases while the rest were rejected. At least four administrative departments achieved 100 per cent disposal.