When Lali Devi’s husband died of a respiratory illness in 2003, she wept.
Like most people, she eventually learnt to accept her lot. But what she could not accept was something that seemed entirely avoidable. Why should a 61-year-old woman have to run from pillar to post for nine years before she could access her husband’s pension fund?
Devi’s story, however, has a happy ending. Somebody told her about the Guaranteed Delivery of Public Services Act rolled out by the Rajasthan government in 2011. “I put in an application last month, and now I just have to open a bank account for the pension money to be deposited directly.”
The Act covers 124 services in 16 departments, including police, finance, energy, medical, traffic, public health engineering, food and housing. And under the new law, officials can be fined R250, or more, for each day’s delay in completing the work.
RP Jain, principal secretary of administrative reforms, says of the 40,82,000 applications received by various departments till March 31, 40,00,000 have been addressed. “Of the pending ones, the time limit was exceeded only in the case of 1,000 applications.”
Today, long queues in front of application counters at the Jaipur collectorate are a thing of the past.
Asha Sharma, who has applied for the position of primary teacher in Ajmer, can’t stop gushing. “I needed to submit a domicile certificate with my application. The tehsil officer issued it in four days.”
Ramesh Bhargav of Ajmer has a similar story to tell. “I got my son’s birth certificate from the municipal corporation a day after I applied.”
However, an official said that lack of awareness about the Act continues to be an impediment. Ujjawal Singh Rathore, additional collector and officer in charge of the scheme in Bhilwara, cites staff shortage as another obstacle.