Ministries may soon start settling public grievances

As per Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approach of people-oriented governance, the Centre is now considering pushing ministries to settle public grievances in a month’s time. 

Department of administrative reforms and public grievance, which comes under Union Ministry of Personnel, is holding meetings with individual ministries to push the new government’s agenda and is also contemplating fixing accountability on officials who fail to clear issues or offer services in a time-bound manner.

A senior government officer who attended one such meeting said the department officials sought feedback on the idea of imposing penalty on officials if they fail to adhere to guidelines on sorting out problems and delivering services in a fixed period. 

Government sources said it was discussed that Rs 25,000 would be the penalty an officer will have to pay from his pocket if he fails to dispose of applications.

But, this move is being resisted by some government employees on the grounds that many requests are frivolous and not concerning departments from where they are sought. In those cases, making them accountable would lead to their harassment, sources added. 

Ministries have grievance cells or information and facilitation centres but they are in a pathetic condition and end up working merely as post offices, accepting and dispatching RTI applications from people. The government’s attitude towards these public-government interface offices are so degrading that officials consider working there as “punishment postings”.

The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of Their Grievances Bill, 2011, was introduced in Parliament but it lapsed. The government is keen to push the bill again during the Budget Session beginning from July 7.

The bill had made it obligatory for government departments to publish a citizen charter stating the time for providing goods and services and addressing grievances. The bill empowers citizens to file a complaint with state public grievance redressal commission against officials for failing to fulfil the objective within 30 days after the last date.

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