New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) With governance and digitization being major thrust areas of the Narendra Modi government, public grievances and their redressal are getting more importance and the Prime Minister himself devotes time every month to take up a particular department and look into top complaints received and their redressal.
With accessibility of the common man to the government made easier with Prime Minister Modi launching the mygov.in portal in 2014, and his public outreach in the form of 'Mann ki Baat', the number of public grievances has jumped manifold since the Manmohan Singh's regime. While earlier the number of public grievances received was around three lakh a year, now it is around 18 lakh, with hundreds of grievances pouring in every day.
Citizens can log in to the public grievances portal -- pgportal.gov.in -- of the Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) under the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions.
Every grievance has to be disposed of within 60 days, and "to the satisfaction" of the complainant. The disposal rate of grievances, most of which relate to the department of posts, pensions, banking or corruption complaints and even land related, is 96 percent. Around four percent of complaints are not closed in the 60 days period.
Citizens not only register grievances at the Prime Minister's mygov.in portal, they also reach the President of India's website at the Presidents Secretariat and the Cabinet Secretariat portal to lodge grievances. All the grievances, including many which are hand written, reach the CPGRAMS, the nodal authority dealing with the issue.
The CPGRAMS then decides which department or ministry the complaint should be forwarded to. It lists six areas under which it cannot register grievances, these include policy matters, commercial contracts, decisions under arbitration, service matters (excluding payment of gratuity and pension), matters that are sub-judice and frivolous complaints.
"With digitization now complaints pop up like popcorn on the DARPG dashboard CPGRAMS. They are mostly public services-related, like trains not coming on time, roads not built, the post not delivered, MNREGA payments not coming in, and related to financial services, banking services," a source told IANS.
"We also get complaints from citizens regarding dead bodies of relatives not coming from some foreign country," the source added.
The DARPG holds an open Durbar every Wednesday morning when people can come and meet the officials to register a grievance or find out what is being done about it. The citizens durbar is held under the Deputy Secretary of DARPG. Complainants can also demand to meet senior officials, like the Joint Secretary or the Additional Secretary, if not satisfied with the replies of the Under Secretary. Each ministry has a senior officer who looks after public grievances.
With public grievances and their redressal being given thrust, the government has upped the number of Under Secretaries who would be looking into it. Every state government also has a nodal officer in-charge of public grievances. The Modi government has also entrusted public grievances to a Minister -- Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (MoS) for PMO and Development of North Eastern Region, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
During the Open Day on Wednesdays many people come with hand-written petitions, which are accepted and registered, if found valid. Those complaining via email are told to register the complaint on the portal, which will help them track the grievance.
As of now, the CPGRAMS dashboard has received over nine lakh complaints.
With the phone numbers of the DARPG officers up in the public domain, the phone keeps ringing with persons calling in to enquire how to register a complaint.
"Public grievances redressal is very important and is taken very seriously by the government. The Prime Minister himself looks into it under the Pragati scheme," said a source to IANS.
Under PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation), launched in March 2015, the Prime Minister himself looks into public grievances. He takes up a particular department and the top complaints received. The Secretary of that Ministry has to be present to explain what is being done about a particular complaint and what factors are hindering its redressal, and suggest if any policy measures or changes would be required.
"It is the obligation of a democratic government to satisfy citizens with regard to governance. CPGRAMS is a mechanism to effectively help citizens dispose of their grievances," V. Srinivas, Additional Secretary, DARPG, told IANS.
(Ranjana Narayan can be reached at Ranjana.email@example.com)