Chandigarh: In a first of its kind initiative, a library of RTI documents has been set up in Chandigarh. It aims at becoming a repository of RTI documents that have already reached the public domain and need not be applied for again.
So, if you have filed an RTI application in Chennai or Guwahati, Hemant Goswami in far-flung Chandigarh is its safe-keeper. He has been diligently spending hours formulating a unique classification system for documents gathered by RTI activists and ordinary citizens.
He says, "We have to step in when governments fail. Section 4(1)(a) of the RTI Act mandates that the authorities should maintain their records duly catalogued, indexed and wherever possible, computerised and connected through a network all over the country. Nothing has been done on this."
There is no restriction on membership to the library which is free.
Volunteers chip in with their time to help the library take off by helping Goswami keep all documents scanned, photographed, cleaned and bound.
The library is doing the government's job of documenting and making public all declassified records and find additional information from the same document, reduce duplication by enhancing sharing, become an authenticated source of RTI documents and provide standardised RTI document classification.
The library has already collected tens of thousands of pages of RTI documents. It is eyeing a bigger stake now.
Goswami says, "This is just a prototype we have created... the bigger objective is that it should be copied across the country, in cities, towns and villages."
Even as the RTI Act turns into a movement and people seek specific information, Goswami's library intends to collect all that information and make it possible for people to make permutations and combinations to make the government perhaps more responsible and transparent.