In this second edition of #LiteracyNext (A city initiative powered by Pune365, to redefine literacy to and take it beyond the scope of the alphabet to fundamental awareness on matters of the city) we focus today on grievance redressal and how as individuals we can make the authorities accountable for the problems we face.
It really comes as no surprise that several Puneites weren’t aware of how they can seek answers or redressal when it comes to their woes with public utilities and the like…
Vinita Deshmukh, Senior Journalist, RTI columnist & activist opines that every citizen should remember never to take injustice lying down.
“Many a time, injustice comes in the form of lack of an inefficient public utilities system that our hard earned money is paying for…
This could encompass bad roads, lack of water supply, felling of trees, overbilling of your electricity bill; delay in receipt of your gas cylinder; delay in procuring your passport or noise pollution during festivals.
“Most of us have the tendency of accepting such inconveniences quietly and at best, complaining about this to your friends at parties. Forget fear! Get into action straightaway.
If the concerned authority for your complaint is the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), remember every Monday between 3pm and 5pm, citizens can walk into any department and demand information under Section 4 of the RTI Act.
So, you would be provided copies of documents pertaining to any issue that is bothering you. “Alternatively, write your complaint to your respective ward officer with CC to the municipal commissioner and don’t forget that the corporator of your area has been elected to ensure that voters get efficient services.
So, knock at their doors and most of them are very helpful. For any problem in your electricity bill, the website www.mahadiscom.co.in is very interactive and has a customer care service number. Do visit it.
“Did you know that your gas cylinder is to be delivered within 48 hours and the delivery boy should get the mobile weighing machine along with him?
Why is your gas cylinder order being delayed? Just open the website of let’s say Bharat Gas if that’s your agency or any other and you will see the number of deliveries, date wise. Armed with that information, just take on the agency responsible.
If more and more people decide to take the authorities to task, automatically services will improve! So, come on, what are you waiting for?,” quips Deshmukh.
Adding to this, Jaya Banerjee, Social Activist believes that in today’s day and age, with ever-growing technology and various social media platforms, government administration has made available various platforms for complaints and redressal.
“For instance, the PMC Care and Pune Police handles on Twitter, the PMC App, Aaple Sarkar etc are available. But are all grievances resolved? Maybe not!
“However, it is important for the citizens to know how the local administration functions, and the various departments that are responsible for various civic services.
For example- accountability of the Civic Budget, which is over 5000Cr. Do we as citizens know where and how this budget is spent? And if we did want to know, how do we get the required information?
RTI, Right to Information is the way ahead. Its only after having adequate information that affects the expenditure of the civic administration on the city, will be able to raise issues and complaints that are relevant to the city and our areas.
The key is to follow up. It takes effort, but if we want a clear and transparent governing system, we should collectively question the system.
Are there lapses in the administration’s expenses of tax money? Yes, there is. We all know that our road contractors do a horrible job, how is it that they get repeat contracts and how can we as citizens complain on that level? Use RTI and then all available modes to complain, online and offline.
PMC has hundreds of vehicles, for administrative use. There is information under RTI, where its apparent that they themselves are unsure of the number of vehicles they own, and even more surprising is vehicles that are supposedly under maintenance, still allegedly have salaries for drivers going out!
This is just a small example of how we need to pursue as citizens to start holding our corporation accountable for the huge budgets that are spent and apparently misused.
Not enough is being done in terms of accountability in spite of various initiatives implemented, which are launched with pomp and show, the working of which, is a question mark,” adds Banerjee.
“Not many people know that it is important to know where every penny of your tax is invested. It is only when we are on our toes, the government and officials will be pushed to work diligently knowing the fact that they will be questioned for every move,” says Rishab Radhanpara, an active citizen who uses social media to spread and seek information from the officials.
“It is not just the only social activist should be doing so, even I help share any information that seems noteworthy with the desired authorities through twitter, Facebook or even through email. The email and telephonic information is present on the official website of PMC and PCMC.
“Moreover, such information also helps the Police and other officials to address any problem or inconvenience the people are facing, swiftly.”
#All views expressed are those of the respondent’s and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
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