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Ashutosh Mishra

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: ‘Mo Sarkar,’ Naveen Patnaik government’s much-vaunted initiative to bring the administration close to the people, seems to be floundering rather early. It had begun with a flourish but the initial enthusiasm about its implementation by various departments has, from all appearances, petered out. Things are back to square one almost everywhere.

To start with every department had appeared keen to redress popular grievances under the programme but this, now it seems fair to assume, was more out of the fear of incurring chief minister, Naveen Patnaik’s ire as he was then personally monitoring Mo Sarkar’s progress. Patnaik wanted to ensure the success of the scheme as it has come to be linked with the image of his government.

Patnaik’s intentions were obviously noble but no sooner did his vigil slacken than the ‘babus’ started playing their familiar games. Even lower-level employees, who had appeared so eager to help people in the initial stages, started behaving indifferently.

The first two departments to have been brought under the programme were Home ( read police) and health. Even though senior police officials claim that people approaching police stations with complaints are getting ‘excellent response’ this is certainly not the case everywhere. There is no dearth of people who are returning disappointed from police stations, unhappy both with the behaviour of officers and the way their complaints are being dealt with. It is another matter, though, that most of them would refrain from bringing such incidents to the notice of higher-ups in the department for the fear of being harassed by ‘thanedars’ later.

Things are equally bad or worse in government hospitals and health centres across the state with complaints of indifference and neglect galore. There seems to be substance in Opposition’s allegation that hospitals are done up temporarily ahead of the visits of senior officials from Bhubaneswar but there is no real improvement either in service or in infrastructure.

There have been instances of common people trying unsuccessfully to draw the attention of the higher-ups to the condition of hospitals in districts. In some cases, they were completely ignored while in others they were only half heard. This is certain to dent people’s confidence in the government which claims to be trying to make them part of the decision making process.

Many more departments have now been brought under the ambit of Mo Sarkar but with few exceptions complaints of indifference continue. Take for example the PHEO wing of housing and urban development department which is responsible for addressing problems relating to water supply and maintenance. The response to calls for repairs even from the occupants of government quarters remains extremely slow, sometimes bordering on indifference. While officials right from the level of executive engineers to junior engineers have been found wanting the behaviour of lower-level employees is worse. Sometimes it takes more than a week even for an ordinary complaint like a broken tap to be addressed.

Now the focus of Mo Sarkar will be on the agriculture department with KALIA scheme at the centre. We will soon have feedback on this from farmers. But the general impression about Mo Sarkar is that it has flattered to deceive.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)

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