Delayed or nil action has put the efficacy of UT administrator Shivraj Patil's public hearings held to redress the grievances of local residents under cloud.
Since November last year, Patil held a total of six public hearings in which the grievances of some 81 residents were heard. Of these, about 50 complaints were disposed of on the spot on assurance of necessary action. The Hindustan Times team randomly contacted 10 persons, whose complaints were disposed of since November, to know the fate of the action assured. Not surprising enough, no action has been taken on any of the complaints.
Davinder Kumar, 35, a newspaper hawker, appeared before the administrator in March. His wife, Kamlesh Devi, was attacked by two persons in November last year. Though a case was registered at the Sector 36 police station, no arrest was made in the case. Davinder had sought protection from the administrator besides directions to the police to arrest the accused. Despite an assurance given by IGP PK Srivastava, who was present at the session, police have failed to nab the accused named in the FIR.
Government teacher Madan Lal appeared in the session with a complaint regarding leakage of water/sewerage near his house. Lal received a letter from the administration informing him that the leakage would be plugged soon, but he is still awaiting some action on his complaint. "The instructions need to be followed up, else there is no need to hold such sessions," said Lal.
Those who attend such sessions also complain about the time devoted to hearing the complainant. Amarjit Singh, whose complaint on transfer of dwelling unit was heard in January, rued that the administrator appeared to be in a hurry to wrap up the proceedings and barely gave a few minutes to each complainant. "Besides, the authorities never bother to respond to letters sent in connection with the complaint," said Amarjit, who claimed to have written two letters to the administrator.
Moreover, a complainant is given a lone chance to appear before the administrator. Dissatisfied with the manner her case was being looked into, Dr Geeta Arora, faculty member of Punjab Engineering College, sought a personal hearing, but was refused permission. Dr Geeta Arora had lodged a complaint of harassment against her senior colleague AM Kalra. "I am still waiting for the report of the inquiry that was initiated on the directions of the administrator," she said.
To address the issue of slow disposal of complaints, city-based RTI activist RK Garg had brought the issue to the knowledge of the administration last year during the hearing of an RTI appeal pertaining to powers under which administrator can hold public hearings. The officials had assured of some action.
When contacted, Prerna Puri, additional secretary home and director information technology, said they keep a proper track of complaints and try to make sure that genuine problems are addressed.
Over the last one year, the public hearing sessions have been witnessing poor response from complainants due to regular cancellation of hearing sessions at the last minute. This year, five such sessions have been cancelled due to the busy schedule of the administrator.
Complain to IT dept
All the complaints to be heard by the administrator are routed through department of information and technology, which sends the complaints to the concerned departments for comments. Thereafter, the complaints deemed fit for hearing are shortlisted and the complainants are informed about the public hearing. Heads of all the departments concerned, including police, estate office, Chandigarh housing board and the municipal corporation are present to redress the grievances.