CM, CS directives on strict implementation of PSGA fail to yield desirable results

Neither more services included nor timelines slashed

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Nov 6: Notwithstanding the repeated instructions of the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary the implementation of Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Guarantee Act (PSGA) has remained far from satisfaction because of non-seriousness at all the levels. Moreover, neither additional services have been brought under the purview of Act nor timelines of existing ones slashed despite dire need of the same to achieve the real objective behind the landmark legislation.
The Jammu and Kashmir Public Services Guarantee Act, 2011, which came into effect from August 10, 2011, provides for the delivery of public services by the designated officers to the eligible persons of the State within the specified time limit.
To carry out implementation of the Act, the State Government notified the Rules vide SRO 223 of 2011. Further vide SRO 224 of 2011 the State Government notified the services to be delivered to the eligible persons under the Act, time limit for providing the notified services, particulars of the designated officers, first appellate authorities and second appellate authorities.
Since the formation of PDP-BJP Coalition Government, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in each and every meeting of the Administrative Secretaries, Deputy Commissioners and Head of the Departments, is laying thrust on strict implementation of the Act on the ground that this special legislation can become a potent tool against scourge of corruption.
She has on numerous occasions issued directions for widening the ambit of Act by bringing more services under its purview and strengthening the monitoring mechanism so as to assess the benefits being drawn from the Act by the common masses.
Not only Chief Minister even the Chief Secretary during the past three years is repeatedly stressing for addition in the list of services of different departments being provided under the Act so that optimum benefit of legislation is provided to the people. Even directions were issued in every meeting of Committee of Secretaries for curtailing the timelines of several existing services, which according to him, are not justified.
However, despite lapse of three years no perceptible change has been brought in the implementation of Act, which according to the official sources, continues to remain far from satisfaction. “Neither additional services have been brought under the purview of the Act by any of the Government department nor the timelines of the existing ones have been slashed”, sources told EXCELSIOR.
They disclosed that only one or two departments have submitted proposals for bringing more services under the purview of the Act while as others have been sleeping over the directives of Chief Minister and Chief Secretary. “This is the testimony of non-serious approach towards the legislation, which otherwise is of immense benefit for the common masses”, sources added.
“Moreover, periodic reports are not being submitted to the General Administration Department despite the fact that it is only through such reports that implementation status can be ascertained”, they said while disclosing that even the General Administration Department never bothered to convene the meeting of those responsible to supervise the implementation of Act at the State or district level.
The slackness on the part of General Administration Department in ensuring proper monitoring of implementation of the Act can be gauged from the fact that it has not nominated new State level Nodal Officers during the past several years. “Some of the officers shown as State level Nodal Officers on the website of the GAD are no more in the active Government service”, sources regretted.
Similarly, there are no officers on the posts which have been assigned the task of monitoring implementation of PSGA at the district level, sources said while pointing towards vacant post of Additional District Development Commissioner Jammu. The website of GAD reflects that ADDC Jammu is responsible for carrying out implementation of Act in the district.
A senior officer of the GAD, on the condition of anonymity, admitted that Government was not aware about the actual implementation status of the Act. “The Government is planning to conduct 3rd party monitoring to ascertain what results the Act has yielded ever since its enactment”, he added.
Disclosing that Kashmir and Jammu Universities have already been approached for the task, the officer said, “if there is reluctance from these varsities the Government will engage either a reputed NGO or a consultancy firm for the task”, adding “it is imperative to go for this exercise as on one side it is claimed by the departments that strict compliance is being shown to the provisions of the Act and on the other side there is general opinion that implementation is not up to the required level”.
It is pertinent to mention here that even today the Chief Minister, while addressing the Administrative Secretaries on the opening of Darbar at winter capital, directed adoption of a monitoring mechanism to oversee implementation of Public Services Guarantee Act.
“This indicates the seriousness of the Chief Minister towards the landmark legislation as such there should be strict compliance to her directives”, sources stressed.