A consolidated report on complaints will be on his table at 9 every morning

For the first time in Tamil Nadu, problems regarding basic needs of a village would come to the notice of the district administration on the very same day.

Ariyalur district Collector M. Ravikumar has now leveraged the technology and conceived a plan under which the secretary of each panchayat would mandatorily send an SMS (short message) at 8 a.m. to a number which would pass it on to a mobile which in turn would send it to a server at the collectorate. A report form would be on the table of the Collector by about 9 a.m.

“While the Collector, the Project Director of the District Rural Development Agency, and the Executive Engineer of the Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board would have the password for the entire district, the Block Development Officers would be able to access these details,” Mr. Ravikumar told The Hindu on Friday.

“Information is power and that is what I am trying to leverage. There are three important issues affecting the rural population, almost every day. Water management, street lights, and women sanitary complexes. “Normally it takes a couple of days for the district administration to come to know of the water problem — whether the hand pump is working, whether the motor is all right and so on. By then the public would have felt that the administration had not bothered to attend to them. Similar is the problem with streetlights also. What we are striving to do at present using this SMS is to first of all come to grips with their problems at the earliest, direct the officials to attend to it and also get the compliance report,” he said. The Collector was confident that even as the secretary of the panchayat sends an SMS in the morning, he would think of ways and means to solve the issue even without the assistance of the higher authorities. Besides, the BDO would attend to it as soon as he comes to know of the issue. As the Collector was kept abreast of the developments, he would wait for the compliance report the very next morning from the panchayat secretary. Besides, the chiefs of the local bodies could be informed of the current situation and thus avoid unwanted recriminations. The project was launched on Tamil New year Day in three of the six blocks in the district and it would be extended to the entire district by May 1, the Collector added.

Interestingly, he has chosen to add a facility even for “messages with mistakes” so that not a single panchayat secretary could say that his SMS was not received.

He said he had taken the help of the assistance of the National Informatics Centre.