People depend on writers for drafting representations at Collectorate

Hundreds of people visit the Collector’s office here every day to get their grievances redressed. They are forced to spend money even for submitting representations to the officials.

The most affected are the poor and illiterate people as they depend on ‘writers’— individuals who squat under the shade of almost every tree on the sprawling campus and prepare petitions for a fee.

On Monday, S. Alageswari (43), a widow working as a maid, said she paid Rs.20 to a writer for drafting a letter addressed to the District Supply Officer seeking supply of kerosene, sugar and rice through the Public Distribution System.

“The salesman at the ration shop in Sundararajapuram is refusing to give me the commodities because I did not buy them for the last two months owing to ill health. He says he will resume distribution only if I get a letter from officers at the Collectorate,” she said.

Unaware of whom to approach at the Collectorate, the woman got a petition drafted by a writer and landed at the office of the Tahsildar (civil supplies –Madurai west). But the staff asked her to come back on Wednesday.

“I am sick and cannot do without the ration supplies. Every time I come here, I have to pay for the bus tickets besides losing my wages for the day. I lose money even for presenting a petition,” she lamented.

Not very different was the case of T. Rajamani (50), a casual labourer who had come along with his six-year-old grandson who is suffering from multiple congenital deformities — stunted fingers, absence of toes, protruding eyes and head of abnormal size.

The labourer from Kuruvappanaickenpatti in Peraiyur taluk said he paid Rs.20 to a writer for drafting a petition addressed to the Collector with a plea to grant monetary assistance for the maintenance of the child. The petition was presented to Collector L. Subramanian who directed the Social Welfare Department officials to recommend a monthly assistance of Rs.1,000 after relaxing the eligibility criterion that the beneficiary must be more than 18 years of age.

R. Sharada, another visitor to the Collectorate, suggested that the district administration could depute some of its personnel to draft petitions free of cost for the benefit of the poor, illiterate, aged and infirm people.

“Even educated people like me have no choice but to approach the writers because the printed application forms required for various purposes are available only with them. The writers fleece the petitioners by gauging their paying capacity,” she alleged.

On the other hand, most writers were not willing to share their thoughts on the issue. “We are also poor people trying to eke out a living by writing petitions. Don’t spoil our livelihood by writing about us,” a woman said without disclosing her name.

The Collector said he would consider the possibility of deputing staff for drafting petitions. “It involves enormous manpower because we receive hundreds of petitions every day. Yet, I will look into the issue and see what best can be done,” he said.

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