Right to Information (RTI) — a Powerful Tool for Wildlife Conservation

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The RTI mandates timely response to citizen requests.
RTI has been given the status of a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of the Constitution.

RTI stands for Right To Information and has been given the status of a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of the Constitution. Article 19 (1) under which every citizen has freedom of speech and expression and the right to know how the government works, the role it plays, its functions, and so on. This empowers any citizen to demand access to government files and after scrutinizing the files obtain certified copies of the letters, documents, file notings etc. Another important right is that any person can demand inspection of works. These two clauses would be extremely useful for field monitoring campaigns in protected areas. As per sub clause (c) of clause 2 of Rule 4 fee chargeable for inspection of files would be Rs 20/half hour after the first hour (which is free). For inspection of works, a reasonable fee would be chargeable. The download provided provides all information related to RTI, FAQs and the form to use to file an RTI.

An RTI application can be on any issue and information can be sought on:

  1. Management Plan of a Park or Protected Area which will provide all maps and other details
  2. Annual Plan of Operations that are sent to MoEF for seeking funding for civil works etc.
  3. Copies of development project proposals that are seeking approvals
  4. Inquiry reports on hunting, illegal felling, encroachment etc
  5. Site inspection reports of senior officers
  6. Details of pending offence cases, PM reports, year wise abstract of wildlife moralities etc
  7. Copies of (tourism) permits issued to resorts etc.
  8. Any Government Order, Gazette notification, circular, Official Memorandum, Letter etc
  9. Log books, Field Note books, monthly reports, MB Registers and other control documents
  10. Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) of officers

Practically, any information/document that is on the file of any government office can be sought. One important point to keep in mind by activists is to always ask for a ‘Certified Copy‘. This means that every page is stamped officially and can be filed in a court.

Process of applying for an RTI application

Step 1

  1. Download the attached RTI application form
  2. Fill in your name and address in column 1 & 2.
  3. Succinctly describe the document that you wish to access. Always start as follows – “Certified copy of the Management Plan…” (This will then be usable even in courts)
  4. State the year to which the document pertains to. If you are not sure state “2008 -2011”.
  5. In the last column, enter the correct designation – ” The Public Information Officer – Office of the Deputy Conservator of Forests…”

Step 2

  1. You can either hand deliver the application to the concerned office and obtain an acknowledgement or send it by RPAD/Speed post.
  2. Make sure you enclose a Postal order of Rs. 10 for each application.
  3. If you are sure the document you have sought is not more than 5 pages you could send two postal orders of Rs. 10 each so that you would have paid in advance for the 5 pages (Rs. 2 /page). You may get the information faster.
  4. If you want to use RTI frequently, it might be a good idea to purchase several Rs.10 Postal Orders. POs have a validity of six months and not drawn on a particular person — so can be used by anybody for any RTI application.

See next page for Important Provisions of the RTI >>

About the author

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Praveen Bhargav is managing trustee of Wildlife First and was a member of the National Board for Wildlife (2007-10).


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