AAP grievance cell shuts down

AAP grievance cell shuts down

Scores of petitioners came to the Delhi Secretariat to find out the status of their complaints. But the public grievance officers responsible for handling the petitioners were busy packing up.

Since the appointments of these officers were made by former chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on a coterminous basis – meaning they hold their posts as long as their political bosses remain in office – they had no assurances to give.

An old couple from Jangpura in South Delhi, who are one of the 23,000 beneficiaries of Kejriwal’s decision to give 50 per cent waiver on power arrears, had come to find out whether the government’s order holds valid.

They had participated in the AAP’s movement against power discoms on alleged inflated electricity tariffs. A former volunteer in the Aam Aadmi Party office, Amit Kumar Srivastava, who had been handling grievances related to water and electricity for the past one month, met the couple.

Srivastava said that if power companies ask for arrears, they should make only 50 per cent of the payment. He also said that the government has already issued a notification. “Could you give us a receiving?” the complainant Harbansh Singh said.

“I am not authorised to sign this now,” Srivastava said, adding that the power company will not harass them.

Another petitioner, Santosh Lamba, 64, could not get past the reception desk. She had asked Cabinet Minister Rakhi Birla to help her get a disability certificate for her 10-year-old grandson.

Srivastava said that he handled some 250 cases daily. “Mostly, people used to come to us with complaints related to water and electricity,” he said, sitting in a huge office with at least 10 chairs.

On a request, he made a call to a private hospital asking the doctor concerned to give some concession for an EWS (economically weaker section) patient.
“He is an auto-rickshaw driver who met with an accident. This is perhaps the last call I am making,” he said.

The chief grievance redressal officer Karan Singh, who was the chief coordinator in the AAP office, said the cell was set up after Kejriwal’s first ‘janata durbar’ that ended in chaos.

“We created this system thinking it will help the government reach out to hundreds of complainants every day,” he said, adding that the previous government had no connection with the “aam aadmi”.

“We were planning to set up a call centre, but that will have to wait now,” he added.
Singh said that AAP’s Swaraj Bill and the Jan Lokpal Bill were important as they could have provided a platform for petitioners to get their grievances redressed. “But this public grievance cell was an interesting experiment and it will stay relevant in the times to come,” he said.

Prithvi Raj Singh, a government official who assisted officers appointed on coterminous basis, said, “This office reported directly to the chief minister. On receiving complaints, we used to write to the departments concerned on behalf of the chief minister’s office.”
“The previous government used to write ‘consider as per rule’. But we changed the language asking the departments to ‘take action in a time bound manner’,” Srivastava said, showing an application that had been doing the rounds of the secretariat for the past one year.

He said that the departments that came directly under the Delhi government were easy to handle compared to Delhi Police, civic agencies and the Delhi Development Authority.
DH News Service

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