Here is the 3rd complaint.
File: Comp/cm contpgm-distadm-221111 22 Nov 2011
COMPLAINT- CM’S CONTACT PROGRAM, PALAKKAD: DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION
1. Will a public servant moving around in a govt vehicle- name plate, flag et al-inaugurating shops and seminars and laying foundation stones during working hours constitute district administration? To be blunt there is nothing more visible in the nature of administration than these opulant gimmicks. We had a district collector who convened a meeting of all parties in the matter of land acquisition for a rail coach factory at Kanjikkode. You don’t need to even have gone to any school to know that in such cases the two parties involved are the lot of people whose land was being taken over and the other lot representing the govt who was taking over the land. But this all party meeting convened by the district collector had only representatives of political parties and none from the project affected people!
2. It is 13 years since I have settled down in this place after retirement from the army and all I am witnessing is the alarming degradation in the quality of administration and fear that the reason could be only corruption of the worst kind. Can somebody even cycle through the roads in Palakkad without ever ruining his/her back? Looks like all that the public servants are doing is collecting taxes and distributing it amoung themselves!
3. To list some specific complaints:
3.1. I had taken up the issue of illegal quarries in Palakkad. And the only lesson learnt is that the public servants keep passing the buck without doing anything that they have been tasked to do. The RDO passes the buck to the Mining and Geology Dept and the Mining and Geology Dept passes the buck to the police and even the District Collector just writes to these people without ensuring that necessary steps to prosecute the culprits are undertaken by those authorities. In this context my complaint to the District Collector, reference Comp-dc pkd-rdo pkd-210509 dated 21 May 2009 still begs a response.
3.2. I had taken up the issue of miscreants destroying the houses of two adivasis in Plachimada in 2010. As per the SC/ST (Prevention of atrocities) Act the DC and the police authorities are required to take a lot of actions. Information obtained under the RTI Act revealed that not only the DC had not taken any action but his office was totally ignorant of every bit of information sought and the application had been transferred to every other public authority in Palakkad dealing with SC/ST issues! In this context two 2nd appeals are pending with the KSIC- RTI/dcpkd-2nd appeal-130810-SC-ST dated 13 Aug 2010 and RTI/dcpkd-2nd appeal-081110-scstact dated 08 Nov 2010. Though it is more than a year since these appeals had been filed they have not been disposed off yet!
3.3. In the above matter, even the police authorities have been deliquent. The crime should have been investigated by an officer not below Dy SP but it had not been done! A complaint, on this ground, filed with the Police Complaints Authority, reference Plachimada Samara Aikyadhardya Samithi letter No PSADS/comp-pca pkd-sc st act-310810 dated 31 Aug 2010, is still pending with the authority! Even the performance of this authority is questionable since complainants are repeatedly summoned for the hearings and the hearing postponed for the next date without assigning any reasons! In fact even the constitution of this authority is questionable what with one retired judge, based at Thiruvnanthapuram, heading the authorities of the 07 southern districts and another, based at Kochi, heading the authorities of the 07 northern districts. Needless to say, questions abound even on the issue of transparency in the selection and appointment of these retired judges.
3.4. Can you believe that it could take a year to get an Legal Heirship Certificate if you follow the procedure correctlybut fail to grease palms? I am afraid that introducing spelling mistakes in the name of the deceased is a strategy used by the corrupt Village Office staff to sort out those who do not grease palms. And the complicity of the higher authorities cannot be ruled out. Or how can it be that is spite of applications under the RTI Act and complaints to the District Collector no action seems to have been taken? In fact it was revealing that it was only after submitting an application under the RTI Act, after more than one month of submitting two complaints to the DC, that the first complaint itself reached the concerned section!
3.5. The Conference Hall in the Collectorate is an asset created out of public funds and needs to be used more optimally. Even on the directions of the Information commissioners to lay down instructions on its utilisation, the only criteria specified is that it should be function in which the DC is a participant! Registered NGOs should be allowed to use this facility at a nominal cost without the fear of having to abandon their program at the last minute due to sudden requirements of the district administration. If the district administration cannot schedule a requirement for this facility atleast a fortnight in advance, then such requirements should not come in the way of better utilsation of a public resource.
3.6. The list can go on and on. But it cannot be concluded without mentioning the subversion of the RTI Act by the o/o the DC. The RTI Act enjoins every public authority to appoint a public information officer to accept applications and provide the information sought. The Act also provides for the applicant to approach an officer superior to the PIO if the information sought is not provided within 30 days. Logically, it implies that the PIO is a senior public servant who is knowledgeable about the office procedures and has access to all the information in that public authority. In the case of the o/o the DC, the only public servant who can be entrusted to do this job is the ADM/Dy Collector (Gen). The appellate authority would then be the DC only. And it was so till a few months back. But even then there had been problems with respect to paying the cost demanded and still the information not being provided in time! And now things have ben made murkier by having more than a dozen PIOs and almost half a dozen appellate authorities for the same public authority! The RTI Act clearly says that ultimately it is the public servant actually holding the information who is the deemed PIO and liable for penalty but having more than one PIO in a public authority and that too in a small office like that of the DC is only a deliberate effort to create confusion and shirk responsibility. In this context, it has been seen that even the register(s) required to be maintained by the public authority in the matter of processing applications under the RTI Act are not being maintained correctly! Of course, this public authority, that also boasts of an RTI Cell, has not only failed to implement the first citizen friendly, clear, simple and unambiguous law, but has been very diligent in implementing the illegal OM issued by the DoPT and passed down from the state’s GA(Co-ord) Dept(73209/Cdn5/10/GAD dated 18/10/2010). How can anyone believe that a public servant belonging to the IAS can be so idiotic? If not idiotic, then the only other reason for such illegal actions can be treason and treason only!
4. The Indian bureaucrcy is acknowledged as one of the most corrupt on this part of the globe. In a poll conducted by NDTV on ‘are we citizens of a nation that is truly the most corrupt in the world?‘, 86.87 pc respondents agreed that we are! A report of a survey of 12 Asian economies done by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, based in Hong Kong blames India’s ‘suffocating bureaucracy’ for us falling behind countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar in providing our people with minimal standards of healthcare, sanitation and education. The report points out that the Government of India spent Rs 4 trillion on various poverty alleviation programmes last year and if even half this money had been distributed among our estimated 60 million poor households, they would each get Rs 80 a day and so rise above the poverty line. Our own Planning Commission pointed this out more than a decade ago but because there has not been the smallest attempt to get our babu-log to work more efficiently, nothing has changed!
5. In this context I suggest that the govt take the following steps immediately to provide an effective district administration:
5.1. Ensure a standard tenure of 30 months to every district collector.
5.2. Ensure that the DC attends office throughout the working hours
5.3. Do away with the unwarranted and disruptive practice of having the DC tag along whenever ministers visit the district. The ministers have been provided with enough and more secretaries to accompany and assist him/her.
5.4. The DC must provide for meeting the public at least for one hour in the forenoon and one hour in the afternoon, say from 1200h to 1300h and 1600h to 1700h.
5.5. Ensure that for every complaint submited to the DC, an acknowlegement card is provided with a format providing feedback to the concerned Secretary to the Govt on the efficacy with which the application has been disposed off and the satisfaction level of the complainant. This should be compiled to update the dossier of the public servant.
5.6. The DC must cater for one day in a fortnight, say 2nd and 3rd Wednesdays, to inspect his subordinate offices-RDOs- and cover all immediate subordinate offices once in 3 months. On these days, when time permits, s/he should also carry out surprise checks of one or two offices two level below-at the taluk level! The inspection report should be published on the website within 24 hours and updated atleast once every week based on the follow up actions.