RTI Judgement Series: Nobody takes responsibility of informing citizens about flash floods in Delhi
Moneylife Digital Team 24 May 2013
An aggrieved father, who lost his son due to a sudden flood, wanted to know if anyone in the Delhi government was responsible for informing citizens about sudden discharge of excess water from reservoirs and the Yamuna River. This is the 99th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
 
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while disposing an appeal, recommended the chief secretary of the Delhi government to ensure that responsibility is fixed on some officers of a designated department to inform citizens when there is a sudden threat of flooding.
 
While giving this judgement on 30 May 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “In the instant case neither the Flood Control Department nor the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) is admitting responsibility for providing warnings to citizens. It is necessary that someone must be held responsible to ensure that whenever there is likelihood of some floods, some officers of the Delhi government should be accountable for providing warning to citizens.”
 
Delhi resident Bijender Kumar Jain, on 19 November 2010 sought information about discharge of water from Wazirabad Barrage from the Public Information Officer (PIO) of DJB. Here is the information he sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and the reply given by the PIO...
 
1. Whether information regarding the discharge of water from Wazirabad Barrage is given or not? If yes, how and by which medium?
PIO's reply: Copy enclosed
 
2. Whether discharge of excess water from Wazirabad Barrage is done after informing common man or discharged suddenly?
PIO's reply: Copy enclosed
 
3. Whether a notice board has been put to display the depth of Wazirabad Barrage and nearby Yamuna. If yes, where?
PIO's reply: Not concerned with the department
 
4. Whether a warning notice board has been put at the Wazirabad Barrage and nearby. If yes, where?
PIO's reply: Not concerned with the department
 
5. Did excess water come in the Yamuna on 5 August 2010 due to which there was increase in its level?
PIO's reply: Increase or decrease in the level of Yamuna depends upon the discharge of water by the irrigation department. This situation is from July 2010.
 
6. Whether extra water was suddenly discharged from the Wazirabad Barrage or information was given before discharging? If yes, how and by which medium?
PIO's reply: 1.Copy enclosed
                        2. After the FAA order PIO replied, No, excess water was not discharged suddenly.
 
7. Whether there was any mis-happening on 5 August 2010 due to discharge of excess water? What it was? Can any action be taken against any authority? If yes, then against whom? Give the copy of file regarding the complete information about it.
PIO's reply: 1.Delhi Jal board replied on 2/12/2010- Copy enclosed.
                        2. After the FAA order, PIO replied on 11/01/2011 that no information regarding this is with the department.
 
8. Whether Delhi Jal board has given any direction in this issue? If yes, provide the copy.
PIO's reply: 1. Copy enclosed. 
                        2. After the FAA order PIO replied on 11/01/2011 that no direction has been issued by Delhi Jal Board.
 
9. If due to sudden discharge of excess water in the Wazirabad Barrage any harm is caused to life and property, is any compensation given to that person? If yes, then how?
PIO's reply: 1.Not concerned with the department.
                        2. After the FAA order PIO replied that It is concerned with Delhi Jal Board.
 
10. Give the details regarding the discharge of water from the Wazirabad Barrage on 5 august 2010.
PIO's reply: Copy enclosed
 
Claiming that the information provided by the PIO was “vague and insufficient” Jain approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). In his first appeal, Jain stated, “PIOs are shifting the burden from one department to others without providing adequate information.”
 
While disposing the appeal, the FAA in his order said, “PIO to ensure that specific reply to the queries raised is furnished to the appellant in respect of queries at 5,6,7,8 and 10 and for balance i.e. queries at 1,2,3,4 and 9 the matter be transferred to the concerned department with information to the appellant within a week positively.”
 
Jain said, the information provided was vague, evasive and misleading. He then filed his second appeal before the CIC.
 
During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that the appellant (Jain) has tried to highlight the absence of any system to inform citizens of floods taking place.
 
Jain told the Commission that he had lost his son who was drowned in a flash flood on 5 August 2010.  
 
Mr Gandhi observed that the RTI application of Jain was bounced between DJB and Flood Control Department and finally complete information appears to have been provided on 23 February 2011.
 
“However, from the various information provided by DJB and Flood Control Department it appears that nobody is responsible specifically to inform citizens in the case of sudden danger of a flood,” the CIC said.
 
While disposing the appeal, the Commission said, it was necessary that someone must be held responsible to ensure that whenever there is likelihood of some floods some officers of the Delhi government should be accountable for providing warning to citizens. 
 
Mr Gandhi said the Commission would send a copy of his order to the chief secretary of Delhi government with a recommendation to ensure that responsibility is fixed on some officers of a designated department to inform citizens when there is a sudden threat of flooding. 
 
 
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
 
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/000730/12583
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2011/000730
 
 
Appellant                      :     Bijender Kumar Jain, 
                                               Delhi- 110053
 
Respondent                 :    Ashok Kumar Chaudhary
                                              Deemed PIO & Executive Engineer (E&M)
                                              Delhi Jal Board, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, 
                                             Wazirabad Water Work, 
                                              Timarpur, Delhi
 
Comments
Array
Free Helpline
Legal Credit
Feedback