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India: Eight year old uses RTI for garbage removal

Mar 31, 2010

Aishwarya, a student of class III in a north Indian school filed the RTI, for the removal of a garbage disposal site in front of her school. The letter was forwarded to the local Municipal Corporation and the dumping has stopped.

Lucknow, India: To Aishwarya, eight years old, RTI is an Act that can work wonders. Especially since it helped her to bring to the notice of civic authorities, the presence of a garbage disposal site in front of her school.

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Not only this, the little one feels the Act has done the expected rectifying the wrong for her. They (those who were dumping garbage) have stopped throwing it there, she shared more than happily. Aishwarya is a student of Class III of a school in Rajajipuram in Lucknow.

The sight of a dumping ground right across the main gate of her school was distressing for her each time she passed by.

So much so that she wrote to the chief minister’s office requesting her to get the site removed from the place.

There was a swine flu scare then and our school had asked us to wear masks, she said. But seeing stray dogs and pigs loitering in the dump scared me, she said. The girl raised the issue with her parents on a lot of occasions. But even they could not provide any satisfactory explanation for the existence of a garbage disposal site close to her school.

It was then that she wrote to the CM. In my letter, I only requested her to interfere, said Aishwarya. But her letter did not fetch any response and we made her file the RTI, said her mother, Urvashi Sharma.

Aishwarya wrote a three-point application to the public information officer (PIO) of the chief minister’s office seeking an answer to why the garbage is being dumped in front of her school.

Her handwritten application had questioned the government on who would own the responsibility if any one of us gets an infection from the discarded waste.

It is here that the RTIs response giving machinery let down the girl. Though authorities have shared the information on the site, she is still to get the answers to her questions.

Six months after she sent the application to the CMs office, it has been forwarded to the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) for doing the needful.

And, LMC has informed the girl that a modern garbage disposal site was built at the place by Awas Vikas Parishad. Authorities have already taken note of the fact that the site is now close to a school and hence, dumping of garbage on the site has been stopped.

However, it is the construction at the place which is blocking the trucks of rubbish removal department to reach the spot and remove the garbage, said the LMC. Thus, in effect, the problem persists with the garbage still on the site and consequently, the threat to the health of school kids is also very much there.

In fact, the parents of the girl still await action on these two counts viz removal of garbage and answer to their daughters query.

However, the only credit, if any, that goes to RTI is keeping the faith of a kid in its efficiency. As a beaming Aishwarya said, I am happy that the right to information has helped me. After her first brush with the Act, she is already defining it as something that can make the wrong thing right.

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