THANE: Information comes at a price, but Thane resident Omprakash Sharma learnt that the cost could be prohibitive when the information concerns public issues and is to be given by a public body like the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The state-run agency has told Sharma to pay Rs 50,000 for copies of a study report on transportation strategies in Thane and Raigad districts.

The Right to Information (RTI) Act activist had on November 14 filed an application with the MMRDA, inquiring if the agency had conducted any surveys on the monorail or Metro in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) area. Sharma offered to pay for the study report.

MMRDA promptly replied to the query on November 26, stating that a comprehensive transportation study for the region was carried out by the agency along with M/s Lea Associates , and the study report was ready by 2008. Another report , on the proposed master plan for a monorail in Thane and Raigad, was also prepared and is with the MMRDA.

However, Sharma was asked to pay up Rs 50,000 for securing these reports as they are said to be “priced reports” . “It shows how innovative they could be in keeping away citizens and activists who seek information using the RTI act,” Sharma said.

He added that the report is now MMRDA property and ideally it should follow the RTI rules, which state that the information seeker be charged Rs 2 for every copy which is photocopied . “Alternatively, the agency could charge me Rs 50 for transmitting the report on a floppy or disc. There is also a provision of allowing me to physically go through the report without any costs,” Sharma said.

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September 2021