Redressing public grievances, no alibis but disposals

Undoubtedly, various initiatives are periodically taken by the UT Government in which keen interest is taken by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha in respect of addressing the issue of public grievances. We have no qualms about such initiatives but what matters is the level of constant monitoring and appraising the outcome of such initiatives on monthly basis. Who can dispute that ”Back to villages” in phases and on back to back basis was not a bold and new drive launched by the Government which though not initially, but subsequently proved much successful. “Awam Ki Awaaz” programme too not only is a platform to suggest, to opine and to share but also put forth grievances of and difficulties faced by the people . We have Jammu and Kashmir Public Services Guarantee Act under which many services under the ambit of the Act are specified to be provided to the citizens within a time frame and for grievances redressing , appellate authorities too are appointed to address complaints. However, is not the current scenario still clamouring ”enough not being done”?
Perhaps, not only having been getting the inklings about the status of such a scenario, but practically feeling about the presence of enough scope to do something more tangibly, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has yet again touched the sensitive and the important issue of public grievances in that directing all the Deputy Commissioners to monitor, on constant basis, the public grievances which are regularly highlighted in news papers. The conventional mode of airing grievance by an aggrieved citizen is one’s recourse to news papers where such grievances are published. What happens thereafter and who or which type of mechanism looks into it to get the same resolved, needs to be identified and toned up. We have been regularly highlighting, through these columns, public grievances and those issues which even are of local nature in Jammu and in Kashmir divisions. While in some cases, action is taken speedily, in most of the cases , on the other hand, the redressing mechanism is proven as lethargic and too frugal to act. It is heartening; therefore, that the Lt. Governor has specifically pointed about those public grievances that appear in news papers to be looked into seriously so as to take proactive measures.
A public servant of whichever rank or authority is a public servant and any complaint or grievance from the public, therefore, merits immediate and prompt attention. Taking the issue casually mars all initiatives, schemes , holding open ‘Darbar’ and the like in respect of resolving public complaints. It is, again, commendable that disciplinary action is sought to be taken against the erring officials and those intentionally undermining the purpose and the scope of grievances redressing mechanism. In top Public Sector Undertakings of the GOI, any complaint from a customer is treated very seriously . It is only a fact that in such PSUs even up to the highest levels of the administration everyone concerned is engaged in its follow up and disposal to the satisfaction of the complainant. Why cannot such a mechanism be started in Jammu and Kashmir? Pending complaints should be treated under the segment of ” non performance” of the concerned officer and in annual performance report , appraisal should get influenced by such non performance to affect career and promotion matters.
That the Lieutenant Governor while recently holding a meeting with the Deputy Commissioners also directed them to examine the grievances report daily as provided by the Directorate of Information and Public Relations assumes significance on two counts. One – that the grievances report submitted by the concerned Directorate was not to be treated as optional , if not trivialising the nature and the extent of a complaint and two – that addressing those almost on daily basis was not optional but quite necessary. Attending to and disposing of 14 complaints on the spot in the said meeting by the Lt. Governor must send clear signals to the district administrations that public grievances redressing must occupy their top priority and attention.