Following the three-day tour of villages, bureaucrats in Madhya Pradesh have come under attack for not being in touch with the ground realities of famers, and now an RTI query has revealed that a general administration department (GAD) circular in 2009 had directed all top bureaucrats to maintain a monthly record on a software specially designed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) on five critical points, including tours to villages.
However, papers for the month of March 2014 under RTI on how many of the officials made the necessary entry show that as many as 37 top officials in 22 departments had not filed any information.
“They were not filing the information simply because they were not doing what they were asked to do. The chief minister has himself admitted to complete failure of the delivery system in rural areas in the state after he took feedback of the drought situation recently. In several states, e-mail addresses of top officials are given in government diaries or papers related to different departments, but in MP you are not provided e-mail addresses of officials. If you make phone calls to a district collector, more often than not he will not answer the phone. People in need of help just don’t know where to go,” said Ajay Dubey, who obtained the papers via RTI.
In fact, the 2009 GAD circular had directed additional chief secretary/principal secretaries/secretaries/heads of departments to file information on five points every month, including important decisions/works done, important achievements of the department, tours undertaken to different parts of the state, tours undertaken outside the state and leaves availed. Records for the month of March 2014, however, show that 37 top officials of the almost all departments of the state government had failed to follow the directive.
A top official of the state government, while admitting that officials don’t go on field tours, said, “They can go to villages but what do they have to offer. You are mobbed by people - poor, downtrodden - they have a lot of problems and you have no solutions to offer. What do you do with such tours? You must remember, drought relief works had to wait till the chief minister returned to the state from his tours to China and South Korea. Not even the ministers took the initiative to do anything, let alone bureaucrats.”
But, is it enough for the government to just issue a circular and not ensure its implementation?
“It’s not that circulars are not complied with. Most of the circulars are followed. If this circular is not being complied with, I will take note,” minister of state for GAD, Lal Singh Arya told HT.
Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra, however, had a different take: “It’s not an elected government but a circus that is at work in MP. Issuing circulars, organising panchayats, making fake announcements and self-projection are the main features of the circus and nobody is bothered about the execution of either a circular or an announcement.”