Government departments under ‘public scrutiny’

Staff Reporter

Public interface with heads of departments held

PUDUCHERRY: A public interface with heads of departments as part of a vigilance awareness programme on Thursday, turned out to be a platform for activists and citizens to raise their grievances about the functioning of several government offices in the Union Territory.

At the programme organised by the Administrative Reforms Wing of the Puducherry government, the activists highlighted instances when laid-out procedures were violated in implementing government programmes. The functioning of the Police, Commercial Taxes, Electricity, Road Transport, Revenue and Public Works Departments came under scrutiny.

A few persons who had sought information under the Right to Information Act highlighted the instances in which their applications were turned down on “flimsy ground.” They also pointed out the delay in providing information under the Right to Information Act.

To prevent corruption in departments such as Road Transport and Land Registration, they suggested installation of video cameras inside the office. They also appealed to the government to control the activities of “brokers” in the Road Transport Department. A speaker said that the best way to put an end to corruption in departments that deal with public utility services on a daily basis was to automate its functioning.

Speakers also requested the government to organise a separate public interface programme with heads of departments.

In her valedictory address, Chief Secretary cum Chief Vigilance Officer Naini Jayaseelan said that the government would organise public interface programmes separately for all departments. “We would first start with the Police and the Revenue and Commercial Taxes Departments. Let them also know that they are under public scrutiny,” she said.

However, such programmes should not be considered as a “platform to raise personal issues and to victimise the officers.”

“We have come across several cases where the Right to Information Act was used to settle personal scores. This will spoil the entire purpose of the Act,” she said.

Corruption could be prevented only when there was a proper system in place, she said.

Appealing to the government staff to strictly adhere to the rule book, she said, “Civil servants should be neutral and should not be partisan.”

It was for the first time that the government was organising a programme as part of Vigilance Awareness Week outside the Secretariat building inviting public for interaction. It was done after People’s Pulse, a non-governmental organisation, took up a campaign for organising the programme outside the Chief Secretariat.

Others who attended the programme included Secretary to Government (Education) G.C. Joshi, Joint Secretary to Government, Administrative Reforms Wing S.D. Sundaresan, Under Secretary to Government (Vigilance) V. Kannabiran and Superintendent of Police (Vigilance and Anti-Corruption unit) S. Ramaraju. Heads of more than 10 government departments also attended the programme.

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