Lean and tall, Vasanth of Jeppu struck a chord with the audience at the janaspandana held on July 4, 2009 at the Town Hall here for Mangalore A hobli.

Being in charge of switching streetlights on and off, he explained how dangerous his work was in the absence of switches. As an ad-hoc solution, two cable ends are hooked together to switch on and unhooked to switch off the streetlights operated by him. Mr. Vasanth said he was scared to touch the cables although he had been provided with cutting pliers and gloves. He was scared because of sparks generated every time he tried to connect the cables.

Yogish Bhat, MLA, had acknowledged Mr. Vasanth’s problem as a genuine one needing quick action. He had pointed out that at many places, these cables were within the reach of children. Describing this as a tragedy waiting to happen, he sought quick action in the matter and set a deadline of one month to provide switches all over the city, not only in Jeppu area.

Six months later, the live cables remain in many areas of the city. This correspondent came across two of them in Urwa on Tuesday. A schoolgirl was walking past the lamppost near one of them. An elderly woman from a house nearby, who did not want to be named, said she had never seen a switch for the streetlight for 10 years. The live cables were hooked and unhooked to operate the streetlights, she said.

Although this was one of the issues highlighted at the janaspandana in July last, official records provided by Mangalore tahsildar Ravi Chandra Naik, show that only four complaints were received. The media, including The Hindu, had reported many complaints. The records show that all the complaints have been addressed, although the problem highlighted by Mr. Vasanth remains unattended.

Mr. Naik told The Hindu that only written complaints were accounted for and resolved. “Some people just come and lodge oral complaints. We cannot help them. Frankly, those who find that their problems are not being addressed by officials come and air their grievances at the janaspandana. People try to use the presence of Ministers and legislators to embarrass the officials,” he said.

Sunil Kumar Bajal, Mangalore city secretary of the CPI(M), said it is not correct for government officials to insist on filing written complaints at public contact meetings. “Any true official will take action against complaints, written or oral,” he said.

Mr. Bajal said his complaints against bus services in Padil-Bajal area had not been attended to, despite having raised them in at least two meetings. He had also submitted a written complaint once. Mr. Bajal said officials deliberately avoided giving publicity to janaspandana.

According to the records, all the grievances received in the 15 janaspandanas held between September 20, 2008 and July 4, 2009 have been addressed.

While all the 71 grievances received in the last three meetings are yet to be solved, 52 of the 200 complaints received during three janaspandanas held between August 1 and September 26 are pending.

Mr. Bhat said that more than 65 per cent of the problems had been solved. Officials kept track of the grievances aired during janaspandana. He said he always responded to every complaint that problems raised during janaspandana had not been addressed.

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