How efficient are the organisations working in the government sector, in Bangalore specifically? How easy is it for an individual to get something done – perhaps get a driving license or apply for an electricity connection? If we have to go by what some of our readers have had to say, it looks as if it is not at all easy. Why, sometimes even information is hard to come by.
Time and again, we hear from our readers who share their woes about the city. Someone is fleeced on a BMTC bus, another has to make multiple trips to the passport office to furnish documents, yet another who has voted for 30 odd years, finds her name off the voter roll in the recent elections.
Why is so much of the work that the government supposed to do out of order? Why is there no accountability? And why do citizens have to bear the brunt of the government’s inefficiency?
Siddharth Nag is a regular commuter on the Volvos that ply on the Silk Board – Kadugodi route. He typically takes a bus from the Spice Garden Junction to Bellandur Petrol Bunk and pays Rs 35 for the ticket. On the morning of June 5th, he boarded a bus at the Spice Garden Junction, which was enroute to Agara. He was issued a ticket from Kundalahalli Gate to Sarjapur Road for Rs 45.
Nag says that though the distance was the same as his regular route, the conductor issued an incorrect ticket, one that cost him Rs 10 more. He also believes he should have been issued a ticket from Marathahalli Junction, considering he boarded at Spice Garden. On asking the conductor to clarify, the conductor rudely responded, “Rs 45 is the rate. Pay if you want to travel”. Nag says, “Asking BMTC staff to be polite may be too much to ask!”
In another incident related to the BMTC, Jyothi writes in talking of an incident that took place in early June. Jyothi boarded the bus from Ulsoor to Yeshwantpur Railway Station. Though the Yeshwantpur Railway Station is supposed to be the last stop, the bus stopped at the Yeshwantpur Bus Stand, with the conductor stating that the bus had a breakdown. Jyothi believes this is some fraud that perpetrated on commuters. She then proceeded to board another bus which would take her to the final destination. Here she was asked to pay Rs 6 for her ticket, and not given the ticket on payment. It was only after she asked the conductor that she got the ticket. Jyothi says, “It is common to find the crew behaving as though it is their own bus and its their own income. The crew functions with utter impunity.”
On calling the BMTC helpline, they informed us that if citizens had a complaint they should note down the bus registration number, else they would not be able to track the complaint. In the case of wrong ticket being issued to Siddharth Nag, they forwarded us the number of Hebbal bus depot under which the bus comes. The depot manager, Mahabal Sharma said he would make an inquiry and refund the money in case extra has been charged. However, he also added, “Maybe the conductor is a new person.”
No affidavit format available with RTO !
D R Prakash, founder-president of the Osborne Road Area Residents Welfare Association, approached the Bangalore East RTO to inquire about the procedure for declaring lost registration certificate and applying for a duplicate one. He was given the relevant form and asked to furnish a list of documents, one of which was an affidavit. The contents for the affidavit was neither available with the concerned officer or at the inquiry counter. He was directed to a typist in the complex, who would do it for a fee.
Prakash asks, “When a middle man can have the draft, why can’t the department personnel?” He has since mailed the good office asking for the procedure to apply for a duplicate certificate and is yet to hear from them.
Mails to 17 of 37 email ids bounce back
Earlier in the year, Citizen Matters published a story on price-gouging by the BMTC. Multiple attempts to reach them through the 24×7 helpline yielded no answers – the officials who spoke to us at that point of time, gave us vague answers that did not clarify our questions.
To get a response, we sent a mail to all the officials whose email ids were listed on the ‘Contact Us’ page of the BMTC website. 17 of the 37 mails bounced, and we didn’t receive any response from the 20 whom it reached either.
All departments sail in the same boat
These are not isolated incidents. Every day there is a new story reported about mismanagement or inefficiency or the lack of response on the part of the government. Mandur has been drowning in Bangalore’s filth for more than six years now, and the BBMP is yet to find a sustainable solution – instead it keeps asking for time from the villagers and has now declared that the company it signed on failed to do the work.
BDA venture into low-cost housing has received flak for its lack of clarity in how flat allotments are made and for the slow pace of construction. As on March 2012, it had constructed or undertaken the construction of about 6000 flats across the city, of which only 650 flats in Nandini layout (EWS quarters) have been occupied so far.
There have been several instances where Citizen Matters has tried to get in touch with some of the women corporators and their husbands pick up the phone to give us a response!
These are but a handful of the issues that Bangalore’s citizens face. The question to ask is, what can we, as citizens do to change this attitude and the giant holes in process that plague our government departments. Any suggestions? Post them on the comments thread.