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Slow Public Service

Poor technology and inadequate manpower come in the way
The state government’s efforts to provide time-bound services to citizens under the Public Services Act have taken a beating in the Salcete taluka owing to poor internet connectivity, shortage of computers, printers, scanners and manpower. The talathis of the taluka, who have the responsibility of completing the process for facilitating issue of residential and caste certificates, are unable to do their duty due to poor technological infrastructure in their offices. They are forced to travel to taluka headquarters to complete the process. At the Margao Municipal Council the services of the government employees handling registration of births and deaths and issue of certificates have been placed at the disposal of the Election Commission. The substitutes are unable to cope with the demand, which has led to a pile of applications.
With the process for admissions to professional and higher courses set to begin soon, many students could face trouble in case they fail to get residential and caste certificates in time. The situation could turn worse unless the district administration takes steps to address the problems faced by the talathis and the Margao Municipal Council. Some of the talathis have been burdened with additional charges, which also hamper their performance as they have to be in different places during the day and hence are unable to cope with all the works assigned to them. Citizens going to the Margao Municipal Council to get birth and death certificates suffer harassment owing to the delay in issue by the council staff. Some idea of the citizens’ harassment at the Margao Municipal Council is available from the fact that the council has not registered any births and deaths since March this year. The delay in getting certificates is coming in the way of parents availing various government benefits. Baptism of Christian children has to be put off for lack of birth certificates. The delay in obtaining death certificates hampers settlement of property and other cases before the legal authorities.
On the one hand, ministers do not tire of self-congratulating themselves for faster delivery of services, including issue of certificates, on the other they pay no attention to the impediments that are slowing down delivery of public services at various offices. They have to see that computer hardware is upgraded periodically and every office has high-speed internet for fast and quick public service. The government’s commitment to speed up delivery of public services rests on constantly upgraded computers and high-speed internet. The government must also provide adequate manpower at every office so that citizens do not have to waste several hours or whole day for a certificate. With the admission process to educational institutions three weeks away, the government must make sure that every office has the right technological infrastructure to provide hassle-free services to students seeking caste and residential certificates. The Margao Municipal Council alone receives 100 applications for birth and death certificates daily on an average. The MMC cannot quickly issue them without the support of technology and manpower.
The Public Services Act provides for time-bound delivery of public services to citizens. Thus delay in providing services defeats the very purpose of the Act. Poor management of the public service delivery systems is obvious. It is a collective failure of ministers and bureaucrats. Though the Act was passed, no system was put in place for the administrative management of the delivery. The delivery of public services was not separated from the normal work process of offices. The officers and the employees could always escape penalty or censure for delay in delivery by pleading that they were given much more work than they were supposed to handle and hence could not be expected to sort out the problems that delayed the delivery of services. The problems got compounded at the talathi offices in Salcete and the Margao Municipal Council because the issues that were delaying the delivery of services – no upgradation of hardware, poor internet connectivity, additional workload and absence for election duties – were being addressed at the usual leisurely government office pace. No one officer was focused on delivery of public services.

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