(From R to L: Saroj, Pushpa, Firoza, Domni, Amma, Asmatara. These people now get kerosene oil at subsidised rates after utilising RTI)
It all began with an awareness camp organised by Pardarshita in 2008. About 250 residents of Bawana resettlement colony filled application forms demanding kerosene oil from the Food & Supply (F & S) Department. Even though they have ration cards, local shopkeepers would regularly scare them away each time they asked for their fair share of kerosene oil. Four months passed since the first complaint, still no action was taken by the Food and Supply Officer (FSO) or even the Assistant Commisioner (AC), despite repeated visits. Disheartened, they met the Joint Commissioner (Fuel) at his ITO office, again to be given verbal solace but no real oil to cook food with.
Each family in Bawana has about 6-7 persons on an average, using about 20 litres of kerosene oil per month, primarily for cooking purposes. As residents of this colony ran from one office to another, they had no other option but to purchase expensive oil from local markets at three times the cost of subsidised kerosene.
An year went by, yet there was no hope of getting any kerosene on their ration cards till last year, in April 2009, when members of Pardarshita assisted them in filing complaints with the Assistant Commissioner under the Right To Information Act 2005, demanding to know status of their initial applications and reasons why they still haven't got the subsidised kerosene. The F & S Department didn't give any satiffying answer to any of these queries after which the issue reached the highest level i.e. to the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) for final resolution. The CIC promptly sent notice to the AC (North West) making it compulsory for him to answer queries raised by people, especially emphasising on reasons for delay in issuing kerosene to them.
Cutting a long story short, people of Bawana resettlement colony finally got kerosene oil at subsidised rates for the first time now in years, but only after they utilised RTI in their fight for securing basic human rights. Wish more people knew about the power of RTI.