J A L A N D H A R    E D I T I O N

RTS Act no help for visitors at Civil Hospital
Ravi Dhaliwal 
Tribune News Service 

Gurdaspur/Pathankot, November 28 
Carrying a wiry frame, septuagenarian Ajmer Singh travelled 60 kms from Dhar block to get the birth certificate of his grandson from the Gurdaspur Civil Surgeon’s office. Under the Right to Service (RTS) Act he should have got the document within five days of applying. However, his wait has been extended to a month because of the insensitive attitude of the authorities. Ajmer Singh’s case is symptomatic of hundreds of other residents who flock to the Civil Hospital daily to get their work done. However, with the hospital authorities turning a blind eye to their needs, a majority of them go back disappointed or have to take the help of unscrupulous agents who bleed them white before dispensing with their documents. 

The RTS Act comprises statutory laws which guarantee time-bound delivery of services for various public services, including providing birth and death certificates. It also provides a mechanism for punishing the errant public servants who fail to provide the service in the stipulated time frame. The Act is also meant to reduce corruption among government officials and simultaneously increase transparency and public accountability. However, in the Gurdaspur Civil Hospital, officials deny residents their basic rights. To compound matters, the facilities at the understaffed hospital are being stretched to a wire as the newly carved out adjoining Pathankot district has no separate Health department and the onus is on the Gurdaspur Civil Surgeon’s office to deal with scores of Pathankot based residents. 

Serpentine queues in front of the section dealing with birth and death certificates have become the order of the day. Savita Kumari, who applied for a death certificate a fortnight ago, complained that the officials manning the cash counters indulge in corrupt practices. “The original fee for getting a certificate is Rs 15. The clerk actually takes more than that amount,” she claimed. Sources reveal that officials are hand in glove with agents who have their kiosks just outside the hospital premises. Civil Surgeon Dr Vinod Beri attributed the delay in issuing certificates to an assortment of factors. “The main reason is that the fact that the hospital is understaffed,” he said.





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