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Sunday, 1 February 2015

CM’s toll-free number flooded with calls against graft

The toll-free number operational in 104 Seva Kendrams here is flooded with calls about corruption and the complaints are not just against government employees, but also Panchayat Raj elected representatives, self-styled politicians and even bank staff.

Taking Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s call to not spare the corrupt seriously, people are boldly calling up the toll-free number to lodge complaints against corrupt officers. They also want their grievances to be brought to the notice of the Chief Minister. The toll-free number, which became operational from January 11, has created a powerful buzz throughout the State with over 29,000 grievance calls received by 104 Seva Kendrams so far.

Of 29,275 grievance calls received from public since January 11 when the Chief Minister made the announcement, 11,486 were general complaints ranging from lack of basic amenities to drinking water to electricity, roads, delay in extending welfare schemes to appeals for jobs and ration cards and even complaints regarding eve-teasing. But significantly, 1,306 complaints were specific to corruption not only by government employees, but by self-styled local leaders (middlemen) and in some cases even sarpanches who demand money to ‘facilitate’ sanction of benefits under various welfare schemes. Many even complained against bankers demanding money to sanction crop loans.

The demand for bribe was rampant in the offices of Mandal Revenue Officer for issuance of various certificates and land related documents, Civil Supplies Department for ration cards, government hospitals and health centres for medical certificates to the physically handicapped.

While Nalgonda district topped the list of calls with 202 calls against money collection, Ranga Reddy followed with 178, Warangal– 158, Karimnagar– 146, Hyderabad – 101 and the least calls were from Adilabad – 69. The complainants, however, in many cases did not name the individual employee or local leaders.

“After the Chief Minister’s office diverted the calls to 104 Seva Kendrams, we engaged extra staff to deal with the rush for a few days and tackled the situation. As the 104 call centre is basically meant for health-related queries, we subsequently provided two dedicated lines exclusively to take and record public grievance complaints,” said K. Shashi Sri, General Manager,104 Seva Kendram under Aarogyasri Health Care Trust, located at Koti.

What struck people was that they believed that their grievances, if taken to the Chief Minister’s notice, would be addressed. “It’s as if they found a voice to take on the system with Chief Minister’s assurance,” an official said. The call centre at the directive of Director General, Anti-Corruption Bureau, A.K. Khan was segregating specific and non-specific complaints. Among the categorised complaints, maximum of 5,906 complaints were related to pensions. “The complaints would be forwarded to nodal officers of respective departments to be appointed shortly and if resolved, it would be conveyed to the caller if he/she calls again,” Ms. Shashi Sri said.

Source: The Hindu, 28th Jan 2015 

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