Failing to attract “adequate audience” in programmes being held across the state as part of its month-long publicity blitz, the Haryana government has told, “bhajan parties” (folk artists) engaged for these events to either “gather crowds” or risk not being paid. Further, officers who release payments have been warned that in case of a lapse the paid amount will be “recovered from their personal accounts”.
The tightening of reins comes barely ten days into the special initiative that kicked off on June 3. A review after the roll-out revealed “photographic evidence” that showed that at some places the programmes were attended by only “5 to 7 persons”, while at others by just “primary school children”.
An internal communication of the government, accessed by The Indian Express, read: “All district public information officers are again directed that in case payments for any such programmes are cleared wherein audience is lesser than 50 persons or if the audience comprises primary school children, officers shall be held responsible and recovery of amount shall also be made from them (accounts of officers).”
To ensure that the events are well attended, the government also wants village chowkidars to make advance announcements about such publicity programmes. Directions have also be issued to make use of public address systems of temples and mosques for informing villagers and also to attract crowds.
District administrations have also been told to inform respective sarpanches well in time. “For this, public information officers at their own level, will send information to concerned District Development and Panchayat Officer (DDPO), Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) and shall ask them also to issue directions to village sarpanches,” the government’s instructions read.
The government has again directed district administrations to ensure that “senior officers” too attend such programmes. “According to directions issued, one programme shall be held in morning and another in the night hours. In bigger villages, drama parties shall hold programmes and district administration’s senior officers’ visit in such programmes must be ensured”, the instructions read.
“After getting an inspection done of these programmes, the government has found that the directions issued earlier are not being followed properly. Thus, officers who are responsible for making people aware about government’s achievements have again been directed to ensure compliance or face action,” a senior officer, not willing to be named, told The Indian Express.
State government has also instructed district administrations that “a 100 per cent audit/ inspection of all such programmes being held across the state should be conducted” and “no payments for any programme shall be made without inspection report”.
According to the internal communication, the recent inspection that led to these guidelines being issued revealed that “at certain places, bhajan parties are doing programmes in private chaupals (common meeting places in villages) and in such programmes, barely 5 to 7 persons are only present”.
It added: “The state headquarters has even got photographic evidences of this.”
The inspection report of such programmes also revealed that various events were being held even at private residences of certain villagers. Government has now issued directions that no programme should be held at any private residence, but only at government institutes — senior secondary school, ITI, polytechnic or such Aanganwadis where women strength is around 50.
As part of the programme that was launched on June 3, government had envisioned use of new songs, jingles, slogans and short documentaries. It had ordered engaging drama artists, bhajan and cinema units for publicising state government’s achievements.