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Right to Information. A Powerful Tool for Strengthening Democracy and Enhancing Good Governance. The Problem – undue secrecy. “Much of the common person’s distress and helplessness is traceable to lack of access to information and lack of knowledge of decision-making processes” .

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Right to Information

A Powerful Tool for

Strengthening Democracy and

Enhancing Good Governance


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The Problem – undue secrecy

“Much of the common person’s distress and helplessness is traceable to lack of access to information and lack of knowledge of decision-making processes”

Official Secrets Act, 1923throws a veil of secrecy on Government procedures

– Abid Hussain, IAS (retd.)

former Member, Planning Commission of India


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Good Governance – Key Attributes

  • Transparency

  • Responsibility

  • Accountability

  • Participation and

  • Responsiveness (to the needs of the people)

“Good governance creates an enabling environment conducive to the enjoyment of human rights and prompts growth and sustainable human development.”

(UN Commission on Human Rights – Charter Body attached to ECOSOC that monitors human rights situation in all member countries of the UN)


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What is Good Governance?

“Formulation and implementation of policies and programmes that areequitable, transparent, non-discriminatory, socially sensitive, participatory and above all accountableto the people at large.

Good governancecan help secure human well being and sustainable development

Poor governancecould erode individual capabilities as well as institutional and community capacities to meet sustenance needs.”

(Excerpted from the 10th Five Year Plan Document)


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Right to Information & Good Governance

  • “Good Governance –

  • crucial to the achievement of Plan targets

  • People’s participationat all stages of planning, implementation and monitoring is a pre-requisite of good governance

  • Policy and procedural reforms will be effective only whenpeople knowthat such changes have been made

  • Task of development administration will become easier if steps are taken tomake information available as a matter of rightto the citizens

(Excerpted from the 10th Five Year Plan Document)


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What is Right to Information?

  • Asking for and being given information as a matter of right is called “Right to Information”

  • The Right to Information is a fundamental right under theConstitution of India

  • Information is necessary for protection of the right to life and liberty. It is therefore a part ofArticle 21

  • Information is necessary to form and express opinions, dissent or support on any matter. It is therefore a part ofArticle 19 (1)(a)

  • The Right to Information Act –

  • Establishes a process for accessing information held by public authorities

  • Ordinarily places an obligation on them to give information

  • Provides a grievance redressal mechanism for citizens who have been denied information in an unreasonable manner


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What is Right to Information?

  • The Right to Information Act –

  • Establishes a process for accessing information held by public authorities

  • Ordinarily places an obligation on them to give information

  • Provides a grievance redressal mechanism for citizens who have been denied information in an unreasonable manner




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The Right to Information Act, 2005

(Passed by the Indian Parliament in May 2005)

An Introduction


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Coverage and Entry into Force

  • Covers all of India except Jammu and Kashmir

(J&K passed its own Freedom of Information Act in 2004)

  • Covers offices owned, established, or financed by the Central, State Govts. and the Union Territories

(9 states have their own information access laws)

  • any body owned, controlled or substantially financed by them directly or indirectly

(Chapter 1)


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Coverage and Entry into Force

  • non-govt. organisations substantially financed with funds provided by them directly or indirectly

  • Central Freedom of Information Act, 2002 has been repealed

  • Entry into force within 4 months. But some provisions – with immediate effect

(Chapter 1)


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‘information’ and ‘right’ - Definitions

Information

  • logbooks,

  • contracts,

  • reports,

  • papers,

  • samples,

  • models,

  • data material held in electronic form

  • Records,

  • documents,

  • memos,

  • e-mails,

  • opinions,

  • advice,

  • press releases,

  • circulars,

  • orders,

information about private bodies that can be accessed under existing laws by a public authority

(Sec. 2)


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‘information’ and ‘right’ - Definitions

Right

to inspect works, documents, records

to take notes, extracts or certified copies

to information whose disclosure is in the public interest

to obtain information in electronic

form

to take samples

(Sec. 2)


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‘record’ - Definitions

Any document, manuscript and file

Any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document

Any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not)

Any other material produced by a computer or any other device

(Sec. 2)


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Competent Authority

  • Speaker Lok Sabha / Vidhana Sabha

  • Chairman of the Rajya Sabha / Legislative Council

  • Supreme Court and High Courts – Chief Justices

  • President of India or the Governor for all other authorities created by or under the Constitution

  • For UTs – Administrator (Lt. Governor)

[Sec. 2]


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Public Authority

  • Any body constituted under the Constitution or law made by Parliament / State Legislature

  • Any body constituted by notification issued by Central /State Govts.

  • Any other body owned or controlled by the Central / State Govts.

[Sec. 2]


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Public Authority

Duty of Proactive Disclosure

Every Public Authority must publish these on a regular basis -

1. Particulars of its organisation, duties and functions

2. Powers and duties of its officers and employees

3. Procedure to be followed in its decision-making process, including channels of supervision and accountability

4. Norms set out by it for discharge of its functions

(Came into force on 15th June 2005

[Sec. 4]


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Public Authority

Duty of Proactive Disclosure

Every Public Authority must publish these on a regular basis -

5. Information about rules, regulations, instructions, manuals & records used by its employees for discharging its functions

6. Statement of the categories of documents held by it or under its control

7. Details of any arrangement for consultation or representation by members of public in relation to policy formulation and implementation

(Came into force on 15th June 2005)

[Sec. 4]


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Public Authority

Duty of Proactive Disclosure

8. List of boards, councils committees and other bodies consisting of 2 or more persons for getting advice including whether their meetings are open to the public or if minutes of meetings are accessible to them

9. Directory of its officers and employees

10. Monthly renumeration received including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations

11. Budget allocated to each of its agencies, indicating particulars of all plans, proposed expenditure and reports of disbursements

(Came into force on 15th June 2005)

[Sec. 4]


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Public Authority

Duty of Proactive Disclosure

Every Public Authority must publish these on a regular basis -

12.Manner of implementation of subsidy programmes including the amounts allocated, the beneficiaries and other details

13. Details of any concessions, permits or authorisations granted

14. Details of information held by it which is in electronic form

(Came into force on 15th June 2005)

[Sec. 4]


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Public Authority

Duty of Proactive Disclosure

Every Public Authority must publish these on a regular basis -

15. Particulars about facilities available to citizens. including working hours

16. Names, designation, and other particulars of the PIOs

17. Any other information of public use

(Came into force on 15th June 2005)

[Sec. 4]


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Public Authority – Other Duties

Every Public Authority must –

  • Publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing decisions which affect the public

  • Provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons.

[Sec. 4]


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Public Information Officer (PIO)

As soon as the RTI Bill is enacted–

  • PIOs must be designated in each Public Authority at the level of its administrative units or offices under it and

  • Asst. PIOs must be designated at sub-divisional or sub-district level

[Sec. 5,6,7,11]


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Public Information Officer (PIO)

Duties

  • Accept requests and give information within time limit

  • Assist those who cannot read and write to fill up application

  • Give information in the format requested as far as possible

  • If granting partial access give reasons why and the materials on the basis of which this decision was taken

[Sec. 5,6,7,11]


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Public Information Officer (PIO)

Duties

  • If information is held by another public authority, transfer the application within 5 days and inform the citizen in writing

  • If information is received from third party (includes any other public authority) then give 10 days to file representation against disclosure

  • If refusing to give information, give reasons in writing and inform requestor about Appellate Authority and time limit for filing appeals

[Sec. 5,6,7,11]


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Appellate Authority (AA)

First Appeal

(Internal)

[Sec. 12-19]

to the officer senior in rank to the PIO in the concerned public authority

(within 30 days from the date of refusal letter but delay may be condoned if sufficient cause is shown)

Time limit = 30 days


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Appellate Authority (AA)

Second appeal(External)

[Sec. 12-19]

to Central/State Information Commission

(within 90 days from the date of decision of first AA but delay may be condoned if sufficient cause is shown)

No time limit for CIC/SIC to decide on appeals

Decision of CIC/SIC is binding

Burden of proof lies on PIO for justifying denial of information

Appeal against IC’s decision can be filed in High Courts/Supreme Court, not lower courts


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What is not open ?

(Sec. 8)

No obligation to give any citizen information –

  • that would prejudicially affect the sovereignty, integrity, security, scientific or economic interest and relation with a foreign state

  • that would lead to the commission of an offence

  • whose release is forbidden by a court or tribunal or if disclosure might constitute contempt of court


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What is not open ?

(Sec. 8)

No obligation to give any citizen information –

  • whose disclosure may lead to breach of privileges of Parliament or State Legislatures

  • whose release is likely to impede investigation or prosecution process

  • from foreign govt. received in confidence

  • if it is available to a person in his fiduciary relationship – except in public interest

  • whose disclosure may endanger life and safety of a person


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What is not open ?

(Sec. 8)

Information –

  • such as commercial and trade secrets, IPRs etc. except in public interest

  • if it is about source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes

  • of a personal and private nature unless required in the larger public interest except in public interest

  • Cabinet papers including deliberations of Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other Officers

(But decisions of Council of Ministers and materials based on which they are taken must be made public after the decision is taken and the matter is completely over)


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Guiding principles for disclosure

  • Information which cannot be denied to Parliament or Legislature of a State shall not be denied to any person

[Sec. 8(l)]

  • All exemptions subject to public interest over ride

  • access must be allowed if public interest outweighs harm to the protected interests – to be decided by PIO or appellate body

[Sec. 8(2)]

  • Partial Disclosure

  • Entire file/record is not exempt even if it contains exempt information. Non-exempt portions may be released after severing exempt parts

[Sec. 10(1)]


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Guiding principles for disclosure

  • Time bound disclosure

  • All information about any event, occurrence or matter must be given after 20 years

Except…

  • information relating to sovereignty, security, integrity, scientific and economic interest of the State

  • information that may lead to commission of an offence

  • Cabinet papers and records of deliberations of Council of Ministers , Secretaries and other officers

  • information that may lead to breach of privileges of Parliament and State Legislatures

[Sec. 8(3)]


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[Sec. 6 & 7]

Application Process

  • Apply in person or electronically

request in English or local official language

  • Time limit for giving information

30 days

  • If information concerns life and liberty of a person

must be given within

48 hrs

  • If information is given by third party then invite objections if any

add 10 extra days

  • No action on application for 30 days

deemed refusal

(Reasons for seeking information shall not be asked)


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Fees payable

[Sec. 6, 7]

  • Must be reasonable. No fees for Below Poverty Lineapplicant

  • Application fees prescribed by appropriate Govt. (Rs.10/-)

  • Cost of giving information may be charged on the requestor

(Details of fees and how the figure was arrived at must be given in writing)

  • Rs. 2/- per page; Rs. 50/- per floppy, others and samples - actual cost; inspection – 1st hour free, Rs. 5/ - every subsequent 15min

  • Requestor may seek review of the fees from the Appellate Authority if it is unreasonable

  • Time between date of dispatch of intimation about fees and actual payment excluded while calculating 30 day time limit

If information is not given within time limit it must be given free of cost


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Central Information Commission

[Sec. 12-14]

  • 1 Chief Information Commissioner (5 yr term) and max. 10 Information Commissioners (ICs) ( one 5 yr term)

  • Central Information Commission to be based in Delhi

  • Chief Information Commissioner to be in Delhi but ICs could be based in other parts

  • Commission will be independent of Govt. control

  • CIC and ICs to be appointed by President with immediate effect

  • Names recommended by committee - PM (Chair), Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and 1 Cabinet Minister nominated by PM


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Central Information Commission

[Sec. 12-14]

  • CIC’s salary equal to Chief Election Commissioner’s

  • IC’s salary equal to Election Commissioner’s

  • Candidate should be eminent person in public life with knowledge and experience in law, science, technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance

  • CIC and retiring ICs will be eligible for appointment to any other public office

  • Can be removed after Presidential reference to Supreme Court for misbehaviour and incapacity

misbehaviour = profiting from govt. or private contract during term

  • President can remove without reference to SC for –

insolvency, conviction of offence for moral turpitude; taking up paid job outside office during term; infirmity of body or mind or having acquired financial or other interest detrimental to functioning in CIC


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State Information Commission

[Sec. 15-17]

  • 1 State Chief Information Commissioner (5 yr term) and max. 10 State Information Commissioners (SICs) (one 5 yr term)

  • State Information Commission could be in any part of the State – to be decided by the States

  • Commission will be independent of State Govt. control

  • SCIC and SICs to be appointed by Governor with immediate effect

  • Names recommended by committee - CM (Chair), Leader of Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha and 1 Cabinet Minister nominated by CM

  • Similar powers and functions as Central Information Commission


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State Information Commission

[Sec. 15-17]

  • SCIC’s salary equal to Election Commissioner’s

  • State Information Commissioner’s salary equal to State Chief Secretary’s

  • Candidate should be eminent person in public life with knowledge and experience in law, science, technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance

  • SCIC and retiring SICs will be eligible for appointment to any other public office

  • Can be removed after Governor’s reference to Supreme Court for misbehaviour and incapacity

misbehaviour = profiting from govt. or private contract during term

  • Governor can remove without reference to SC for –

insolvency, conviction of offence for moral turpitude; taking up paid job outside office during term; infirmity of body or mind or having acquired financial or other interest detrimental to functioningin CIC


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Information Commission (Central and State)

Powers& Functions

  • Duty to receive complaints –

  • If requests cannot be filed because PIO is not appointed

  • If APIO refuses to receive/forward information requests/appeals

  • When first AA upholds PIO’s decision of refusal

  • If there is no response on request within time limit

  • If requestor thinks fees charged are unreasonable

  • If requestor thinks information given by PIO is incomplete, false or misleading

  • Any other matter relating to obtaining information under this law

  • ICs have powers of Civil Court to conduct inquiry

All records (including those covered by exemptions) must be given to IC during inquiryfor examination

[Sec. 18]


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Information Commission (Central and State)

  • Powerto secure compliance from Public Authority includes -

  • To appoint PIO in a Public Authority if none exists

  • Require Public Authority to compensate for any loss suffered by requestor due to unreasonable denial

  • Seek annual report from Public Authority of compliance with this law

  • Get the Public Authority to publish all information it is required to publish under this law

  • Enhance training provisions for officials on RTI

  • Get Public Authority to make necessary changes to records, management, maintenance and destruction procedures

  • Impose penalties as stipulated in this law

ICs to submit annual report to Parliament / Vidhan Sabha through Central / State Govt. about its work and implementation of this law

[Sec. 19]


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Penalty Provisions

[Sec. 20-21]

  • IC can penalise PIO Rs. 250/- per day up to a maximum of Rs. 25,000/- for -

  • Refusal to receive application

Without reasonable cause

  • Not furnishing information within time limit

  • Malafidely denying information

  • Knowingly giving incorrect, incomplete, misleading information

For persistent violation of the law IC can recommend disciplinary action

  • Destroying information which was the subject of request

  • Obstructing furnishing of information in any manner


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Who is not covered?

[Sec. 24(1) and Schedule 2]

  • IB & RAW

and any other intelligence or security organisation established by State govts.

  • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence

  • Central Economic Intelligence Bureau

Matters relating to corruption and human rights violations covered by law must be given

  • Directorate of Enforcement

  • Narcotics Control Bureau

  • Aviation Research Centre

  • Special Frontier Force

Information can be given only if concerned IC approves

Time limit – 45 days

  • CRPF, ITBP, CISF, NSG

  • Special Service Bureau

  • Assam Rifles

  • Special Branch (CID) Andaman and Nicobar

  • Crime Branch (CID) Dadra and Nagar Haveli

  • Special Branch Lakshadweep Police


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Third Party

[Sec. 2&11]

  • A person other than the person making a request for information and includes a public authority

  • If information requested is given by third party and treated as confidential by the third party then PIO must give it written notice inviting objections

  • Third party must be given notice within 5 days of receiving information request

  • Third party may give verbal or written submissions to PIO within 10 days of receiving notice

  • Third party can appeal to First Appeal body within 30 days and to IC within 90 days


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Other Duties of Central / State Govts.

Subject to availability of resources govts. must -

  • Developeducational programmes for the public especially for the disadvantaged communities to exercise their RTI

  • Encouragepublic authorities to participate in the development and organisation of these programmes

  • Train PIOs and produce relevant training materials for them

  • Promote timely and effective dissemination of accurate information about the activities of the public authorities

  • Within 18 months compile a User Guide in the official language for the benefit of citizens

[Sec. 26]


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Role of Government – ‘to do’ list

with specific time line for implementation

  • Formulate an Action Plan

  • Identify public authorities in all departments

Secretariat to field level

constituted, established, owned, controlled or substantially financed directly or indirectly

  • Identifypublic authorities in other bodies –

  • DesignatePIOs, APIOs and DAAs

in every public authority

  • Constitute the Information Commission

appoint CIC/SCIC and ICs and provide funds and staff

  • CompilePublic Information Directory/ Handbook

for every public authority – Sec. 4 : proactive disclosure


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Role of Government – ‘to do’ list

>

Stipulate application fee

Stipulate rates for calculating additional fees

>

  • Notifyrules

Determine mode and cost of dissemination of Public Information Directory/Handbook

>

Determine procedure for IC to decide on appeals

>

for monies received and spent under RTI Act

  • Openbudget heads

for applications, receipt, fee intimation, rejection order, appeals etc.

  • Prescribeformats (optional)and registers

  • Notifyexempt organisations

Intelligence and security agencies under Sec. 24(4)

  • for inspection

  • for collection of samples

  • Lay downprocedures


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Role of Government – ‘to do’ list

  • Develop basic practice manuals

for APIOs, PIOs and DAAs

for deciding ‘partial access’ under Sec. 10 & 11

  • Lay downprocedures

for interpreting exemptions and ‘public interest’ under Sec. 8

  • Develop basicguidelines

  • Undertakesensitisation and training programmes

for APIOs, PIOs, DAAs and

IC staff first (later for all officials)

in the official language within 18 months

  • Develop a User Guide for the benefit of citizens

  • Undertake programmes for public education

for citizens, with particular attention to the disadvantaged communities


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Role of Government – ‘to do’ list

Identify and adopt E-solutions

  • Overhaul records maintenance and management

Operationalise -

ThePublic Records Act, 1993


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Perils of Ignorance

The suffering that ignorant men inflict upon themselves

can hardly be caused

even by their enemies

Dearth of knowledge is dire destitution. Other forms of poverty, the world deems less impoverishing

(Thiruvalluvar)

(Thirukkural verses 843, 841)


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Knowledge, Truth and Action

“Truth about the ACTION must be known

Truth about the INACTIONmust be known;

Truth about the PROHIBITED ACTION

must be known

Mysterious are the ways of ACTION”

(Bhagavadgita Chap. 4)


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The Almightyand Openness

“Ask,

and it shall be given to you;

seek,

and you shall find;

knock,

and itshall be openedunto you.

For every one that asketh

receiveth;

and he that seeketh

findeth;

and to him that knocketh

it shall be opened”

(William Blake – early 19th Cent.)

(Matthew 7:7-8)


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State Public Information Officer

Name :

Dr. Prakash Bhati

Dy. Director, Extension & P.R

Directorate, Department of Animal Husbandry, Tonk Road, Jaipur

Address :

Email : [email protected]

Tel : 0141-2743192, 27432243

Fax : 0141-2743267

Website :animalhusbandry.raj.org


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Appellate Officer

Name :

Dr. U.K. Thanvi

Director,

Directorate,

Department of Animal Husbandry, Tonk Road, Jaipur

Address :

Email : [email protected]

Tel : 0141-2743331, 27432243, 2743192

Fax : 0141-2743267

Website :animalhusbandry.raj.org


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