Cites RTI provision, which leaves activists fuming.
Mumbai: In an application filed under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005, the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) has refused to share a copy of the feasibility study report carried out for the construction of the 500-km-long bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project.
According to the NHSRC, under section 8(1) d of the RTI Act, 2005, it is exempted from sharing the copy of the study. Under the above-mentioned section, information is not disclosed citing it to be commercial confidence, trade secret or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position. Unless it does not warrant or serve larger public interest, there is no sharing of information..
However, several RTI activists including Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner have slammed the Railways for denying access to the public document under RTI.
Pune based RTI activist, Vivek Velankar, said, “The reply of the Railways is shocking considering the tall claims the government makes about transparency. Instead, they should upload documents like the feasibility study of the bullet train, on the official website of the agency implementing it or that of the Railways ministry.”
The Asian Age, in a RTI application dated April 20, 2017, had sought the soft/hard copy of the feasibility study report conducted for construction of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train. In a reply dated, May 24, 2017, the NHSRDC, said, “The information asked cannot be shared under 8 (1) d of RTI Act as showing of information is likely to affect the competition position of the agencies working on it.”
Mr Gandhi said the reply was unreasonable. “The Railways should explain how competition position would be affected if the feasibility study is shared in the public domain? It is a poor excuse not to share the required information. One should go for first appeal against the response.” The Railways had formed a NHSRC, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) in order to execute the project. It takes about seven hours to travel between the Ahmedabad and Mumbai and the bullet train aims to reduce it to about two hours.