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Information about Nano project denied under RTI
Published on 11 Nov. 2008 11:53 PM IST
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When the state government signed an MoU with Tata Motors Ltd (TML) for the Nano car project, the government claimed it was as per existing norms and regulations. But now, industries department has denied access to the MoU and other related information sought under Right to Information (RTI) Act, reports Times News Network. Under RTI, TOI had sought a copy of the agreement through an application dated October 10. However, a month later the information has been denied by the industries department through a letter interestingly dated October 24, but stamped November 7. The letter signed by the departments public information officer (PIO) BS Mehta says that since the application seeking information pertains to a third party, it is necessary to issue notice to the company for making submissions under Section 11 of RTI. According to the PIO, TML has requested not to let out any information regarding the Nano project since this will harm the company’s competitive position. Moreover, the information sought is related to TMLs trade secrets, the PIO said. “The matter has been considered. Taking into account the submissions made by TML and other relevant factors, it is regretted that in accordance with provisions under Section 8(1)(D), I am not able to give any information in this regard as it will harm the competitive position of the company, if the information is disclosed,” the letter states. Interestingly, the PIO has neither elaborated on TML’s submissions, nor the other relevant factors. Under RTI, the PIO after hearing the submissions of a third party, in this case TML can allow access to the information despite the third party objecting to its disclosure. This is legitimate if public interest outweighs the importance of any possible harm to the third party’s interest. According to RTI activists, the MoU and its conditions should have been made public as part of the industries departments proactive disclosure. RTI under Section 4 mandates that a public authority should publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing decisions which affect public. “If an industry is given government land, concessions cant be held as private information. In such a case, concessions given would affect the exchequer in terms of collection of charges and dues...” says RTI activist Harinesh Pandya.

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