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Slow delivery dent in hit service act

- More than 3 crore applications in 16 months

Patna, Dec. 17: The Right to Public Service (RTPS) Act is a big hit in Bihar with over three crore people availing it since its introduction on August 15, 2011, but there is a mild undercurrent of discontent over its delivery system.

Delay in getting the services under the RTPS Act is common. The practice of issuing backdated certificates to hide the inefficiency of the officials concerned is another cause of concern in a system highly appreciated in all sections of society.

The citizen-friendly act guarantees delivery of around 50 services, including various social security schemes, caste, income and domicile certificates, within a stipulated time. The deadline to deliver varies between three and 45 days, depending on the nature of the service sought.

Bihar Prasashnik Sudhar Mission (BPSM) — a joint venture of the UK’s Department for International Development and the government of Bihar — has been entrusted with the task of maintaining records pertaining to the RTPS Act and provide technical help to the government offices for delivering services to people.

According to official records, as many as 3.03 crore applications had been received under the RTPS Act till mid-December. Of them, 2.92 crore applications had been disposed of. Appeals have been filed only in 700 odd cases, wherein a designated officer failed to deliver a stipulated service on time.

If the pattern of the flow of applications is any indication, the act is gaining popularity with each passing month. The number of applications crossed the one crore mark in March this year, almost seven months after the act came into being. In another five months, it surpassed the two crore mark. Four months on, the figure crossed the three crore mark.

Of the total 3.03 crore applications, around 30 lakh were submitted online. The state government introduced the facility of online applications for three services — caste, domicile and income certificates — on August 15 this year.

With the surge in the number of applicants, some chinks surfaced in the delivery system.

Sudhanshu Kumar, the mukhiya (head) of Nayanagar panchayat under Hasanpur block of Samastipur district, said: “I got my domicile certificate on December 12 but the document handed over to me carried the date of December 8. The officials manning the RTPS counter in the block office might have done so to hide the delay in delivering the service.”

Sudhanshu did not pay any bribe for availing the service, though. He also admitted that the facility of submitting application form online motivated him to avail the service.

For Mohammed Haseed of Mahaddipur village of the same block, the RTPS exists just on paper. Those responsible for delivering services are not going by the rulebook, he complained.

Haseed has not received his income certificate even a month after applying for the same. According to the provisions of the act, the said service has to be delivered within 14 days of receiving the application.

Afzal Ansari of Bishwambharpur village of Mehsi block under East Champaran district had to wait for almost a year for getting a caste certificate for his son Naushad Ali. He first applied for the certificate this January. But the one issued carried a wrong name.

Ansari visited the block office several times to get the correction carried out but each time he was told that it was not possible. He had to apply afresh for the certificate, which he received today.

Amar, a Mehsi-based social worker, said: “The government would have to strengthen the delivery mechanism. People have great hope from this act and the huge turnout at the RTPS counters in blocks is testimony to the fact. This hope would turn into anger if services are not be delivered on time.”

Hasan Imam, another social worker of the same block, claimed that middlemen were still active at the RTPS counters.

BPSM mission director and principal secretary of the general administration department Deepak Kumar told The Telegraph: “Those facing trouble should immediately lodge complaints. In fact, such complaints would help us in taking action against those violating the provisions of the act.”