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news details
Who's PIO in Poonch district offices?
All officers designated as APIOs!
5/20/2018 12:18:46 AM
Early Times Report

Jammu, May 19: It is 10th year since J&K RTI Act 2009 got enacted in Jammu and Kashmir, but it seems officers at the helm are still not aware about the Right to Information Law. RTI calls for appointment of Public Information Officers (PIO) in each public authority. In majority of the district offices the district officers have been designated as PIOs, but in Poonch district all the district officers (except DFO and ACR) have been designated as Assistant PIOs (APIOs), which means they can't provide information to people under RTI Act as their job is to assist the PIOs whose details are not at all available.
Details available with Early Times reveal that official websites of district Poonch www.poonch.gov.in in its RTI column has given details of PIOs and APIOs. When the link is opened all the District Officers (except ACR/DFO) including block level officers are designated as APIOs and not even a single PIOs details can be found in Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO), Chief Education Officer (CEO), Chief Animal Husbandry Officer, Deputy Director Employment, and Assistant Commissioner Development (ACD).
As per J&K RTI Act 2009, the APIOs cannot provide information to RTI applicants but their job is to process and assist the PIOs. Irony is that in Rural Development Department where Block Development Officers BDOs are designated PIOs and ACD is the First Appellate Authority (FAA), in Poonch all the BDOs and ACD have been designated as APIOs. All the 7 BDOs in Poonch are designated APIOs and who is the PIO nobody knows?
As reported already the State Chief Information Commission (CIC) last month lambasted Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) Budgam who is also Collector land acquisition during the hearing of complaint filed by aggrieved farmers of Budgam who were denied information on proposed land acquisition for Semi Ring Road. CIC Khurshid Ahmad Ganai while taking the issue very seriously has summoned Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Budgam and all the Tehsildars along with all the relevant record.
The State Information Commission (SIC) had listed a complaint last month filed against ACR Budgam for not providing information under J&K RTI Act 2009 to affected farmers whose land is going to be acquired by government for Semi Ring Road. During the hearing ACR could not satisfy the CIC as he (ACR/ Collector) claimed he is not the designated PIO. Pertinently, all the ACRs are designated PIOs in other DC offices. CIC has now summoned ADC, ACR and all the Tehsildars of Budgam.
Pertinent to mention that application under J&K RTI Act 2009 was filed before PIO/ACR Budgam who is also Collector Land Acquisition (LA) Budgam on 21.02.2017 by Ghulam Ali Darzi and Ghulam Qadir Rather both residents of Budgam district. Applicants are the aggrieved farmers affected by Semi Ring Road land acquisition. The information seekers wanted copies of notifications, communication between Collector LA Budgam and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and other documents related to Land Acquisition for proposed Ring Road and ACR who is the designated PIO denied the same.
"One fails to understand who provides information to RTI applicants in Poonch 99% of district officers are not designated PIO and even BDOs have not been entrusted this job. If these officers provide the information this is an illegal practice because they are designated APIOs and an APIO can't provide information at all. In government officers non-gazetted officers are designated APIOs but who has advised the Poonch district administration in past needs to be identified. I appeal newly appointed DC Poonch to look into this matter," said Farooq Kuthoo, spokesman of J&K RTI Movement.
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