| Citizens queue up at a block office in Patna to apply for identity cards. Telegraph picture |
A right step in the right direction. That sums up the Right to Public Service (RTPS) Act, introduced to provide citizens public utility services within a specific time frame and get rid of corrupt government employees.
The statute could be considered a hallmark of the seven years of NDA rule in Bihar.
Data compiled by the general administration department revealed that more than 3 crore people have benefited from the act that came into force on August 15, 2011. Of them, 2.75 crore people received caste, income and residential certificates within the stipulated time frame. Altogether 2.85 crore applications were received till November 15, 2012. Besides, 25.26 lakh people availed of the online service facility.
The online service, which was launched on December 1, 2011, is gradually gaining momentum with the number of applications received through the Internet going up in the past few months.
Deepak Kumar, the principal secretary of the department, said the government has made a provision to apply for such certificates from the Bihar Bhavan office in New Delhi. “This facility is also being launched in New Delhi for the benefit of people from Bihar living there. They can also get these certificates from Bihar Bhavan,” he said. An office will also be set up in Mumbai shortly, he added.
For the benefit of the people, the time frame for the caste, income and the residential certificates has been reduced from 21 days to 14 days. The state has included two new services — Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojana and Rashtriya Parivarik Laabh Yojana — in the project from this year. Applications for the girls’ marriage scheme will be disposed of within 15 days, while the services under the family benefit scheme will be provided within 30 days.
The government had initially kept 50 services of 10 departments under the purview of the RTPS Act. The introduction of the statute has proved a bane for corrupt government officials and touts. At least a dozen public servants have been punished. Recently, a fine of Rs 1 lakh was slapped on an official in Paliganj, Patna, for failing to provide service within the time frame.
However, some applicants complained of being harassed by some clerks at government offices. “The cut money for caste certificate has gone up from Rs 100 to Rs 200,” said Abhimanyu Kumar Singh, who had applied for a residential certificate at the Mohiuddin Nagar block office in Samastipur district.