When Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated 3000 ‘Mo Seva’ centres in Odisha with great pomp and show in March 2021, little did the people of state know that such help desks would hardly come to their aid.
The Mo Seva centres were meant to provide government services to the people in their own locality in online mode in a hassle-free manner. During its launch, the government promised that every panchayat will have such a centre and people won’t have to run to headquarters or even the state capital Bhubaneswar for services like, birth/death certificates, income certificate, land rights certificates etc.
But just into a year of its launch, the ground reality tells an entirely different story. Many Mo Seva centres either lie defunct or operate without good internet thereby forcing people from beneficiaries to complainants to run to government offices in Bhubaneswar.
Chitrotpala Mishra, a beneficiary, was spotted waiting in the queue at Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation’s office holding her infant on her shoulder. She rues that after repeatedly failing to get birth certificate of her child online, she was forced to go to the office in person with the baby.
Narrating her ordeal, Mishra said, “I have to leave my elder daughter at home and bring my 4-month old child to this office for her birth certificate. The Odisha One web portal, the government's unified citizen centric services delivery platform, where one can pay utility bills and apply for government certificates online is useless and does not serve any purpose.”
Similarly, another beneficiary from Niali was forced to visit the BMC office in Bhubaneswar after he failed to get the birth certificate despite paying challan three times.
“There is no support for the applicants. No officer has ever replied to our grievances. That is why I was forced to come to Bhubaneswar to get my certificate,” said the man from Niali.
On the other hand, the government continues to deny any fault in the system. Rather the City Health Officer in BMC blamed the beneficiaries for erroneous applications leading to cancellation of their requests.
Replying to the allegations, BMC City Health Officer, Deepak Kumar Bisoyi said, “Beneficiaries make errors while applying. Then they rectify the mistakes and apply again. All the certificates are sent to the CDMO for approval before delivery. So there seem to be a little bit of delay.”
But surprisingly, the picture gets more gloomy if we go away from the capital to the interiors of the state. One example is the E-Seva centre near Jaleswar Tehsil which seems to have remained closed for ages. Local middle men, the biggest benefactor from this pathetic situation, even do not hesitate to harass money from innocent people to get their work done.
Similar is the story of the E-Seva centre in Gunupur which functions more like it never existed and that is because of poor internet connectivity. Judhisthira Mohanty, a Gunupur resident narrates, “Poor internet speed has made our lives very difficult here. We have to wait for weeks before we could avail any government services here.”
Asked about the claims surrounding Mo Seva centres, Odisha Revenue Minister, Pramila Mallik said, “We are resolving problems in the centres as and when they come. There is no need to panic.”