Hyderabad: An RTI activist and independent jounalist received a jolt when he was asked to pay Rs 20,30,960 including Goods and Services Tax (GST) of Rs 3,09,960 for disclosing rainfall data under the RTI Act.
According to The News Minute, 27-year-old Rajesh Serupally, who is working on a story relating to deficit rainfall in Nizamabad, and its impact on agriculture and farmers in the region, was forced to file an RTI query.
Serupally had approached Nizamabad Chief Planning Officer (CPO) for the last year's rainfall data, however he failed to provide it and instead asked him to file for the RTI query.
On July 30, he got a response from the department stating that if he needed the information, Seruapply needs to shell out Rs 20.3 lakhs.
“I was completely shocked! What was more bizarre was that the department even including a GST charge of Rs 3 lakh. I honestly didn’t know how to react to it.”
“I have filed many RTIs earlier, and nobody has ever charged GST for an RTI query,” Rajesh was quoted saying by the leading web portal.
Rajesh added that he thinks no one has ever filed an RTI query with TSDPS department.
TSPDPS director in-charge Sudershan Reddy told TNM that no one has ever asked for rainfall data through RTI. Reddy said that private insurance companies come ask for rainfall data, so the department decided to monetise it. According to the policy, Rs 3500 for one weather station and Telangana has 1,044 AWS.
Reddy adds that private insurance companies come asking for rainfall data to cross-check the claims of farmers who are beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
In fact, the TRS government has supported the BJP to make an amendment to the RTI Act 2005, in the Rajya Sabha.