If you have ever lodged a complaint with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi's online complaint cell, chances are that it has met with the same fate as Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's complaint.
While inaugurating the online complaint service on March 12, 2005, Dikshit had lodged a complaint, sources in the Chief Minister's office told HT on Saturday. "As a gesture to highlight how useful the service was, she had lodged a complaint about the condition of a particular road. The bad stretch is yet to be repaired," sources said.
Of every 12 complaints, made on the MCD’s computerised Public Grievances Redressal System, just one gets attended to. According to the records of the MCD's Information Technology (IT) Department, of the 8,425 complaints registered till January 25, only 744 had been ‘redressed’. The figures are available on the civic body's website (www.mcdonline.gov.in).
Sources in the MCD’s IT department, which maintains the online track record of the complaint registration system, say that ‘redressal’ in MCD parlance does not necessarily mean that a complaint has been addressed. "An officer can report a complaint as redressed when he either assigns the task to someone, completes it himself or even rejects it," sources said. So, the actual figures for redressal could be far lower.
There are several departments in the MCD that have not redressed a single complaint – namely the Town Planning, Legal, Finance and Accounts, Factory Licensing, Advertisement and Architecture departments.
The IT department has a grim record of redressing complaints. Of the 47 complaints it has received, only 10 have been redressed. Deputy Commissioner (IT), Vijay Singh, said: "Due to sealing, everything else has taken a back seat. We are doing just emergency work. We are not getting enough time but we will improve our record." As for the bad performance of other departments, Singh added, "We have given laptops to all the DCs. We will train them."
Sources added that the IT department has already held two training sessions for MCD officials on redressing complaints made through the online mechanism but things haven’t changed. "We train officials periodically," an IT department official said.
"All they are telling you in the name of redressal is how many complaints have been read. Whether the few complaints that have been opened by anyone have been attended to at all is another matter," Sanjay Kaul, president, People’s Action, an association that works towards getting the civic authorities to act on citizens’ problems. "The MCD works in an auto-obstruct mode. The entire effort is directed towards generating and sustaining corruption. You can’t expect them to resolve problems," said Kaul.
Deep Mathur, official spokesperson of the MCD, said: "I cannot comment off-hand. It looks like a problem of reconciliation of figures to me." Officials of the IT department, on the other hand, said the figures on the website were auto-generated. "The moment a complaint appears, it gets added. As soon as an official redresses it, it gets added to the list. The list is updated everyday, on its own," an official said.
At the time of launching the system in March 2005, the MCD had harped on this aspect of the online redressal system. They had hoped the transparency and increased accountability would lead to quicker redressal.