Perhaps in a bid to prove that his government is technology-friendly, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan set up an online cell to receive complaints from the public. The website (http://cmo.kerala.gov.in/) allows people to send their complaints and grievances directly to the chief minister’s office after initial registration. The registration process requires users to submit their UIDAI or Aadhar number however. The chief minister announced the move on his Facebook page Wednesday night.
Vijayan said those who want to submit their complaints directly can do so at the ‘Straight forward’ counter in the north block of the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram. The step comes five months into the new government’s tenure and days after one of its ministers was forced to resign on charges of nepotism.
Although the step reflects the government’s attitude in combating corruption and dealing directly with public complaints, it is not new. The online cell for grievance redressal was present during the previous Oommen Chandy government as well. In fact reports indicated the online mechanism turned out to be a failure, with a majority of the complaints being unresolved even months after they were posted. The Hindu reported in 2014 that over 80 per cent of the complaints were unresolved even eight months after they were filed through the online cell. Over 1,700 complaints were received in January, 2014 alone. While the complaints are usually routed to the concerned departments of the government, there was criticism that many of these departments did not care to address them.
Chandy, the Congress chief minister of the state from 2011 to 2016, was more popular for his mass-contact programme through which he would tour districts and interact directly with people to listen to their complaints. Although the opposition criticised the move for the expenditure involved in the process, the huge crowds flocking the CM’s programme indicated its popularity among the public.
It is to be seen whether Vijayan’s move to set up an online cell would yield similar results.