Locals are of the view that staff needs to be more committed to its job and work out ways for a streamlined grievance cell
Plaint should reach officials directly
Despite the huge pomp and show of government for centralised grievance redressal mechanism through mSeva, the taxpayers money seems to be going down the drain as to register a complaint on mSeva, a citizen needs to login through OTP and if one is lucky, OTP may arrive only after five-six attempts. I wanted to register a complaint for overflowing side chambers in the ward of the Mayor. After filling the details, the website couldn’t find a location due to which the complaint didn’t get register and there was also no manual field to type the address. The screen goes completely blank if you try to refresh website or app. Apparently, a complaint through WhatsApp chat bot got registered but don’t know when will it get addressed because the MC still follows the hierarchy to pass down the complaints to concerned officer which takes 10-15 days where as the Right To Transparency and Accountability in Services Act mandates to de-silt drainages/sewers within 24-48 hours of receiving complaint. The simplicity to register and redressal of complaint has become highly complicated. The PSPCL has much better complaint redressal system which is operating as per guidelines of regulatory commission. In 2017, I took up the matter of non-functional online complaint box with the MCA authorities and then online box was simplified and errors, too, were removed. The concerned officers were also given login credentials to redress the complaint but none checked and the objective of online complaint redressal collapsed. One thing remained common then and now ie issues which require immediate attention are passed down from to SE to XEN then to SDO and finally to JE rather than sending the complaints directly to the concerned officer, thus, failing the very objective of digital system. In order to effectively solve the grievances the online system should automatically assign complaint to concerned officer and he should be initiated through SMS to resolve the issue thus making him accountable also.
Helpline for each service need of hour
Amritsar being a historic city and on world tourism map needs a good infrastructure which is badly lacking The local residents have no clue how to get their services entertained because of lack of helplines regarding the various issues. The administration introduces helplines with much fanfare but most of the time they lie unattended or defunct. Either the lines are faulty or officers concerned are not vigilant enough to attend to them. The administration needs to plan workshops and gear them up for better services to the people. Online payment of bills, death and birth certificates, issues regarding roads, garbage collection, water and electricity helplines are a must and should be well attended and this is what makes a smart city. Another serious issue is the stray cattle and stray dog menace increase heavily on roads and in parks…which are not looked into. Helpline for each service is need of the hour and numbers ought to be published in newspapers or flashed on local TV news channels. Last but not the least, it should be of assistance to the local residents and tourists as well.
We always welcome feedback of residents
There are multiple channels to file a complaint with the Municipal Corporation. We regularly review grievances through proper redressal systems. We receive maximum complaints manually. There is a strong network of MC councillors and most people complain through their public representatives. Moreover, all zonal offices have complaint desks. We also have toll-free numbers for sanitation and other services. We do receive online complaints through ‘mSeva’ app. We always welcome the feedback of residents to improve our services. Komal Mittal, MC Commissioner
The rub lies in accessing the system
A complaint redressal system is an integral part of the machinery of any administration. Without having an effective and efficient complaint redressal system no administration can claim to be accountable, responsive and user-friendly. In fact, it is a gauge to measure its effectiveness and efficiency as it provides important feedback on its functioning. It is being commonly used by the MC to take action on any complaint made by the residents to avail services provided by it more effectively. It has been designed with the sole purpose of receiving complaints and initiating corrective action. Its intentions are good but the difficulty lies in accessing its means to report grievances. More often than not, the laudable service remains unavailable. Web portal, a web-based platform, provides the residents with a single point to information but most of the citizens don’t know how to access it on desktop or mobile. A minuscule minority is conversant with it. So is the case with email as it doesn’t work well in their hands. Only a toll-free number remains handy to connect with the officials concerned but it mostly remains busy. It is the only stand alone medium but is the receiver of a vast number of unsolicited calls defeating its very purpose. Hence, the complaint redressal system is not as effective and helpful as it ought to be. It ought to be overhauled and made proactive to receive residents’ complaints for their prompt redressal . The system needs to be revamped to decentralise handling and redressal of public complaints by empowering the officials at primary level to recieve, dispose and monitor complaints. It should be made functional 24×7 with applicant OTP authentication, acknowledgement to applicant at each stage, feedback by the complainant, etc. Thus, it will surely win people’s confidence.
Tarsem S Bumrah
A dedicated civic body staff required
The Punjab government deserves public appreciation for providing public redressal system relating to the MC Amritsar via their WhatsApp (mobile no. 8750975975). Toll free no. 18001802103 for the MC services is also available. To make this WhatsApp online system and toll free service serve effectively, a dedicated MC staff is required urgently.
MC ought to have an assertive attitude
Mostly the residents face a grievance regarding sewerage blockage, streetlights, water and electricity supply, parks beatification, etc, from their respective wards. To ensure the redressal, the MC must give proper time to residents to address and resolve their local issues and grievances. The MC must have an assertive attitude towards its residents and listen and resolve their problems. It must hold a series of meetings with the residents and ward councillors bi-weekly or once in a month and promptly discuss the issues with the officials of the government. It should have a close contact with the government contractors to address the grievances of their residents and also review the processes and their functions towards the residential work, which should be conducted well on time. The concerned officer should have leadership qualities as well as commanding authorities to raise the voice of his ward people during house meetings and address their grievances and get it resolved timely. He should also have a complainant box outside his office which should be opened on every week so to address the cries of residents in his absence from his office. He should try to educate the youngsters of his ward in such a manner that they should themselves know about the government policies. The MC should be well-aware about the different government schemes like widow pension, ration scheme, smartcard schemes for the people residing in their area and ensure proper execution for the right person and address problems. The MC must depute one person at the office who should work for 12 hours minimum to redress the problems in absence of the concerned officer. However, it is a rare case when the MC is using, reverting and resolving grievances through the said tools.
Do we live in a law abiding society?
That the municipal corporation runs a well-oiled complaint redressal system like landline or e-mail is news to most residents. It must be a carefully guarded secret for obvious reasons. Once upon a time, they circulated the phone numbers of important public dealing officials, but I remember that only about a quarter or so of the long list were actually valid or active numbers. As matters stand, even personal visits, and diary entries of public grievances remain unattended. For example, the so called ‘beautification project’ to spruce up the Circular Road from Khazana Gate to Sultanwind Gate has dug up road sections and the adjoining parks but the work was abandoned for no reason. Even written complaints to the commissioner fell on deaf ears. I think Amritsar Tribune is the only portal through which serious gaps in the MC services can be vented out but I wonder if they are attended. I, as an octogenarian, recall with nostalgia the British times when there was no technology, no mobiles, a modest budget but a serious administration. Thanks to the then nightly cleanings, the residents always woke up to a clean and well-sprinkled dust-free city. Animals like those before carts and tongas and municipal donkeys carried a compulsory canvas bag under the tail to prevent littering, and you rarely saw a stray cow. Dog population was systematically kept manageable. There were fewer streetlights; they were dim but power pilferage was unimaginable. The clusters of energy metres are an eyesore in the so-called smart city. I sometimes wonder whether we live in a law abiding society.
A mockery of plaint redressal system
The complaint redressal system of the MC is not at all effective and helpful in addressing the grievances of residents. In the previous summer, I had sent e-mails to the MC on its contact e-mail id on web portal for water scarcity problem in our Ranjit Avenue area but till date they have not replied and did not even bother to call on my mobile number narrated by me in the e-mails shot off. The complaint redressal system is only false propaganda by them. In actual, the grievances of residents remain unresolved even after accessing the MC’s complaint redressal system. Due to this the residents have a sore attitude towards the MC as they repent that all their grievances have fallen on deaf ears.
Today’s MC is rudderless
It is not the toll-free number which is to solve the problems but the sympathetic ear attending the same, which is lacking. In our country limited number of people face problems relating to Custom, Excise, Income Tax Departments but everyone irrespective of the his/her financial status do come face to face with Local Bodies Department. That is why our great political leaders started their political journey with municipal committee/corporation. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr Rajendra Prasad and Sardar Vallabhai Patel started their political career by being Mayor of Allahabad, Patna and Ahmedabad, respectively. In good old days, our city’s municipal committee with limited resources in addition to its usual work used to provide total education and health services to the city residents with no private service providers in the field. The Princess of Wales Hospital at Dhab Khatikan, run by the MC was the only maternity hospital in the city. The MC used to run an exclusive infectious disease hospital near bus stand and also gave financial aid to local civil hospital out of its meagre resources. It used to run electricity power station at Taranwala Pul. Over and above, the MC’s contribution to art and cultural activities were unparallel. It was possible due to sincere and dedicated collective efforts of the staff headed by equally sincere political leadership. In December 1946, EO of MC Shri Padam Chand Bhandari himself mended the torn water hose pipe of the fire engine and a passerby friend asked him about it. Bhandari replied that “he could visualise riots and fire-related incidents in near future hence was preparing for it” and in March 1947, he was proved right. Today, we see Bhandari Bridge in his loving memory. After India-China war of 1962, the PM floated national defence fund and employees of the local MC donated more than Rs5 lakh in form of cash and gold for it. But with passage of time, things changed. Service providers have changed from selfless to selfish. Poor leadership is masked with loudest voice. With a councillor in each ward, there should not be any complaint cell for the public; the councillor should attend to it.
Harsh N Johar
Tell residents details of grievance cell
If the MC is truly serious about resolving civic grievances of residents through dedicated contact lines like toll-free number, landline, email, and web portal, these complaint handles could prove to be an extremely effective toolkit. However, this is possible only if the MC actually ‘bombards’ the public with these contact details in the face, the ears, on the sensory intelligence of its residents! One may gawk and ask about the absurdity of such a solution. To justify this, first, look at the reality – we are a crazy mixed-generation of new-age youth, young adults, midlifers, midnighters, and the over-the-hill ones. In other words, we are the tech-savvy, the juggaado, the kaam chalau, the chalta hais’ and the lazy, in that order of age-factor and experience. Secondly, the MC reputation needs a 360-degree makeover for the public to trust that their efforts of lodging complaints could bear fruit. For this, the MC has to virtually attack and drill the distrusting, the disheartened, and the tech-challenged public with wake-up messages to push the aggrieved to promptly file a complaint to the civic body with a proud faith that it would be resolved. Then, these tools become effective. The idea would be to first make the task easy for the public and limit the contact details to one or two ways. The second is to tick off from the list to identify the department and type of complaint. Third, the public could audio record their complaint at a toll-free number. Fourth, they could lodge a written complaint on a widely used app like WhatsApp on the same number. This toll-free number could be widely broadcast through billboards, ticker-signs, local cable, welcome note on mobiles, to drill in the conscious memory, a simple three-digit toll-free number, to lodge a complaint to MC, similar to 100 for police, 108 for an ambulance. Importantly, the MC must put in place quick team mechanisms and make this helpline ultra-responsive. This could be done by creating inter-departmental teamwork to survey, play, display, and convey. Following the acknowledgment of the complaint, an MC team should first survey, then play or perform, then display the effective resolution of each complaint and lastly convey the feedback to the complainant and the public.
Effectiveness of redressal system
It is always required to have an effective platform to hear the voice/communication of a common man. In today’s life, technology plays an imperative role for an effective complaint redressal system. Available Options: landline, Toll-Free Number, Email and Web Portal. Suggestion to Improve Effectiveness: Turn Around Time (TAT) should be fixed for each category of complaint. Complaint dashboard should be displayed on the website. Option to reopen complaint if response is not satisfactory. Escalation matrix should be available to users if complaint not resolved within TAT. Use of artificial intelligence to address the complaint. Common complaints should be displayed on website through FAQ. Feedback option should be taken from the users. Survey can be conducted of selected people about their experiences.
Try out Swachhata app, it works
I recently filed a complaint on the ‘Swachhata’ app and it was resolved by the concerned authorities within a week. I urge all the residents of the city to use this app if they have any type of complaint like garbage, sewage, sweeping, etc. Please tell your friends about this app so that we can make our city clean and green. I don’t know about other modes of contacting the MC. like web portal, landline number, etc as I have not used them. But I wish that all of these services be transparent where anyone can access them so that the concerned authorities are held accountable for their work.
Jatinderpal Singh Batth
Bring redressal modes to people’s senses
It is to my surprise that such e-mail, toll-free number, landline number, web portal are ever available! Why are these missing from the entrance gate or reception area of the MC is billion dollar question? To my opinion such an attitude of not displaying the redressal system is a bad behaviour by the MC. A civic body is the backbone of beauty of a town or city. District Relationship Officer should also take notice of this lacuna. Display of redressal system at entrance or in reception area of each and every government institution should be made mandatory by the government, and in case such a rule already exists the non-abiding government institutions should be served with disciplinary action. Apart from this The Tribune, through a regular special column, should make people aware of their rights and of various government mechanisms available to make this city a beautiful place to live in. To sum MC should take notice of my suggestion and immediately display such redressal modes.
The system is down most of the time
Residents’ complaints lodged on the MC Amritsar official portal are rarely addressed and took long to respond. Either the redressal system is down due to technical problems or fails to log in complaints on e-mail are neither replied nor are ticket numbers generated to keep track of complaint. The MC should make a dedicated people-friendly portal for rederssal of residents’ complaints with a time tag. A level of resolution of concerned complaint must be followed till the needful is done. It is suggested that a WhatsApp chat enable number be made available for lodging complaints in addition to other formats. A separate complaint desk under supervision of officer is the need of hour.
Top brass way over in their head
Being the patron of Vikas Manch, Amritsar, my personal experience suggests that the officials and employees of the MC, when contacted respond positively to the complaints regarding sewage leakage, streetlight, major light regarding replacement of defunct transformer, sweeping problems, etc. But the top brass disappoints. The MC Commissioner and Mayor do not pay heed to the major demands of the city. The Commissioner has been requested to develop the roads leading to Sri Harmandir Sahib, especially to the Gurdwara Guru ke Mehal, the birth place of ninth Sikh master Sri Guru Teg Bahadur, must be developed under the Smart City project as that of the Hall Bazaar. The Commissioner has been requested, both in written and verbally, that the roads starting from Ram Talai Chowk on GT Road and leading to Sri Harmandir Sahib via Burj Akali Phula Singh and Gheo Mandi Chowk, road from Mahan Singh Gate to Town Hall, road from Sheran Wala Gate to Saragarhi parking, road from Ram Bagh Chowk to Gol Hatti Chowk be developed under the Smart City project keeping in view the 400th birth anniversary celebrations, which are to be celebrated in April this year. But, nothing has been promised and planned to implement the deserving and appropriate demand, although she is also the chairman and executive officer of the Àmritsar Smart City project. The MC Commissioner has also been requested to implement the agreement signed by the Municipal commissioner Amritsar (on behalf of the Governor of Punjab) and Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (on behalf of The President of India) regarding relocation of the three clubs from the Ram Bagh, but to no avail.
Kulwant Singh Ankhi
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