The Telegraph
Saturday , December 21 , 2013
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Govt whip: perform or perish
- Officers in charge of services get taste of corporate world

Patna, Dec. 20: At least six employees of Goh and Haspura blocks in Aurangabad district had to lose their jobs recently for their failure to deliver services to the public within a time frame under the Right to Public Service (RTPS) Act.

Not only this, 11 others are facing departmental proceedings for not being able to meet the deadline.

Introduced on August 15, 2011, RTPS entails delivery of certain services to people within a stipulated time. There are also provisions for disciplinary action and fine against those employees who are found to be lax in delivering services within the desired time limit.

The lackadaisical attitude of government employees across the state towards providing services within the stipulated period under the Act has led to the realisation of penalty of Rs 78 lakh from erring employees. A total of 627 public servants have already been penalised for the offence. Since January this year, over 7,000 surprise checks have been conducted on delivery counters by the district magistrates (DMs) concerned across the state.

In addition, suo motu appeals have been registered against 138 mid-level officials for their failure to ensure timely disposal of the applications. A senior official in the general administration department under whose jurisdiction the Bihar Prashashanik Sudhar Mission — which monitors the work undertaken by officials under the RTPS law — functions, said that till date over 6 crore applications had been received under the Act. Of these, 4.25 crore applications were related to caste certificates only. Around 70 lakh applications were received online.

He said that an amount of Rs 78 lakh has been realised as penalty from the erring employees. “The amount realised as penalty is perhaps the highest in the country as far (monetary) fine imposed on public servants for their failure to deliver services to the people is concerned,” the official said.

The officer said the government decided to initiate disciplinary action against the erring employees after several complaints were received about deliberate attempts to delay the delivery process. “Recently, a team from the state headquarters was sent to Aurangabad to inquire into such complaints. The services of six employees of Goh and Haspura blocks of the district were terminated on the basis of the report submitted by the probe team,” he told The Telegraph.

The employees had been appointed on contract. “This is not the case with employees serving such centres in Aurangabad only. Dozens of employees have been put under suspension and departmental proceedings initiated against them for their failure to dispose of the applications within the time frame,” he added.

He said the DMs have been asked to increase the number of delivery counters in their respective districts in the wake of the rush of applicants. The move of the department to send text messages to the applicants after the completion of the work has been a success across the state, he said. The initiative, he stressed, has reduced the crowd of applicants at the delivery counters in remote areas.

In order to check corrupt practices and involvement of middlemen, instructions have been issued to all DMs to conduct surprise checks. The implementation of the directive can be gauged from the fact that 7,000 counters have been raided by the DMs in the past 11 months alone, the officer pointed out.

In addition, the DMs have been asked to furnish weekly reports about disposal of the applications. The reports are reviewed at the headquarters by the chief secretary. The chief secretary also reviews the developments from time to time through video conferencing, he added.

The recent decision of the government to provide caste, income and domicile certificates within two days instead of seven has come as a relief for students. “The decision has been taken in the larger interest of students who earlier had to wait for a week to get a caste or income or a domicile certificate. It would have been better had the government thought of providing them on the same day or within 24 hours,” said Nilesh Ram, a resident of Patepur block in Vaishali district.

Jitendra Kumar Singh, a resident of Ujiyarpur in Samastipur district, however, differed and said the new provision would lead to chaos at the delivery counters. “No additional hands (personnel) have been provided while the delivery period has been reduced. Naturally, there would be workload on the personnel manning the delivery counters and the applicants left to fend for themselves,” he said.

Action initiated against around 3,000 middlemen across the state have, however, failed to work as a deterrent. Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Dehri-on-Sone in Rohtas district, said middlemen are still calling the shots. “Visit any delivery counter, you will find same set of people in the queue. It means that applicants have to visit the counters time and again for their work,” he added.