Aesthetics and free expression is an essential part of human lives. Physical and psychological wellbeing contributes positively to the labour force of a country. Every Divisional Secretariat Division is thus entitled to provide its residents with facilities that enhance and help maintain physical and psychological wellbeing of the people.
One of the important facilities that assures this health is having a platform for the artists to showcase their talents that would allow them to hold stage dramas, musical concerts and other such aesthetic activities.
Unfortunately many people in Sri Lanka are deprived of these facilities. It is no exception for the people in the Galnewa DS division.
An auditorium had been built under the financial allocations from the Galnewa Pradeshiya Sabha but for more than two years of its construction, officials at the Galnewa Pradeshiya Sabha had not taken steps to vest it with the public. During that period, the place was overtaken with weed almost covering the entire structure of the building. Although the residents made several inquiries about it officials had not provided a favourable response.
Knowledge on RTI was a blessing in disguise for the residents. They learnt about RTI through a group of youth in the area who attended a workshop on RTI conducted by SLPI which was funded through a USAID-SDGAP programme.
Accordingly the villagers filed an RTI application to the Information Officer at Galnewa DS Division in December 2018.
Although the information officer at the Divisional Secretariat Office did not give information adhering to the specified time mentioned in the RTI Act, the clearing of the surroundings of the auditorium began and people could see that necessary steps were being taken to open the auditorium.
Villagers believe the prompt action by the authorities to open the auditorium was taken due to the RTI application filed by them. They say that the RTI law is an important tool to hold officials accountable and prevent wastage of public funds.
The villagers are looking forward to see the day of the opening ceremony of the auditorium where the children in the area can showcase their talents.
The youth said that RTI gave hope to the villagers. If not for the Act they would have never been able to question officials boldly.
This update was prepared by participants of the Information and Communication Training Workshop conducted by the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) through a grant funded by the United States Agency for International Development through the Strengthening Democratic Governance and Accountability Project Activity.
“The contents of this post are the sole responsibility of SLPI and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.”