The chance to clean up the system

Fighting corruption

The chance to clean up the system

At the entrance of Parisara Bhavan, which houses the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KS­PCB), a notice states that one can file complaints against corruption at 25588151. 

While this is great in theory, it only connects the caller to the KSPCB, with the man on the other end having no clue about the helpline. 

“We are trained to receive complaints but haven’t got any complaint calls. This either means that the people themselves are corrupt or scared to speak out against the authorities or aren’t aware of the fact that they can complain on the helpline or our website,” reasons KSPCB chairman Vaman Acharya. 

 He adds, “We started this helpline so that any corruption within the KSPCB could be stopped. But if there was corruption, it would only affect industries anyway, not the common man.”

The good news is that the City also has an active anti-corruption helpline of 65734444 belonging to ‘Coalition Against Corruption’, a joint initiative by the Public Affairs Centre, along with Swabhimana, Towards Rural Urban Training and Housing (TRUTH), Consumer Rights Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT), Consumer Care Society (CCS) and Karuna Trust, which are non-profit organisations.

 “Ours is a double-helpline since our objective is to reduce corruption and help people use the Right To Information (RTI) Act. We get around 400 to 600 calls a year, which are not only from Bangalore but also districts like Mysore and Gulbarga. We cover a wide range of problems. 

For instance, we recently helped the economically weaker sections in Bommasandra, where a house was being constructed but the beneficiaries of the land were not getting their dues. 

So we helped gather all the required information using the RTI, approached the Government of Karnataka (GoK) and started an enquiry,” informs Ravindra Nath Guru, the helpline co-ordinator. 

Another example he cites is of poor solid waste management in the City. “The Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) and Provident Fund (PF) were not being paid to the pourakarmikas, who approached us for help. They were not even being provided with safety gadgets like gloves and footwear. So we lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta and strict action is being taken against the concerned officials.

It’s interesting that for the last two years, the maximum complaints have come against the BBMP, which I call an ‘illegal cell’ because of how it functions,” shares Ravindra. He adds that an important case that the coalition is fighting presently is the corruption in party halls, with 110 out of 170 party halls in the City being unlicenced.
Unfortunately, not too many people use these helplines to clean up the system.  Meghana S Belavadi, a student of Seshadripuram Institute of Commerce and Management, says, “As responsible youngsters and crusaders of a better tomorrow, I feel that it’s each one of our jobs to take necessary action against corrupt officials instead of tolerating it. 

Instead of being helpless and scared of complaining that our identity will be revealed, people can confidently use helplines to bring unethical acts to light. But there needs to be more awareness about the existence of such helplines!” Websites like www.ipaidabribe.com and www.ichangemycity.com are also ways of reporting corruption.

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