working for the practical realisation of human rights in the Commonwealth 
About us
CHOGM Reports
What's New
Commonwealth Human Rights Advocacy
CHRI Events
CHRI in the News
Job Opportunities
Contact us
Site Map

Right to Information


FOI Act and Fighting Corruption

This story is taken from an email received from Parivartan by CHRI on 15 March 2004

Almost 90% of the food meant to be distributed to poor people under the Public Distribution System is being siphoned off. These are the findings of surveys done by Parivartan in a small area in Welcome Colony in East Delhi.

But all this changed drastically after the records of ration dealers of this area were obtained using Right to Information and were made public. 82 families that Parivartan spoke to on 13th March informed that everyone in this area are now getting their full entitlements at right prices. This has happened for the first time in this area and it has happened merely as a result of the records becoming public.

Parivartan obtained the sales registers and stock registers of some ration dealers in Welcome area in east Delhi in October 2003 using Right to Information. The records related to distribution of wheat, rice and kerosene during June 2003. The information contained therein was disseminated widely in this area during the month of December 2003. The people were aghast to see that rations had been siphoned off in their names. The ration dealers had all this while been maintaining that they were not receiving stocks from the government. Parivartan workers went house to house to verify the entries in the sales registers.

This exercise revealed that out of a total of 182 families that we spoke to, 142 families did not receive a single grain of wheat during the month of June. 167 families did not receive a single grain of rice. Out of a total of 4650 Kgs of wheat supposed to have been distributed to the people, only 595 Kgs had actually been received by the people. The rest 87% found its way to the black market. Out of a total of 1820 Kgs of rice supposed to have been distributed as per daily sales registers, only 110 Kgs was received by the people. Balance 94% was siphoned off.

But all this changed after records were made public in December. During our survey on 13th March, people informed that one of the dealers has now been giving correct quantities of rations at right prices for the last two months to everyone and another one gave correct rations last month.

However, one Kerosene Oil Dealer, whose records were also obtained, and who had publicly apologized for his past mistakes and had promised in December that he would improve, is still not giving proper supplies. Hence, it was decided with the people that the records of this dealer along with the findings of the survey should be presented to the police with a request to lodge an FIR against him for diversion of essential commodities.

The process of obtaining records of ration dealers and dissemination of Information contained therein has been quite interesting. A series of public meetings took place during January and February, some of which were also attended by the ration dealers association. The people would discuss the conduct of various shopkeepers in these meetings and decide whose records to procure, whom to condone and who to proceed against. This is real empowerment of the people. The people can themselves obtain records and set the dealers straight.