FORMER DEPUTY Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh’s Badal’s dream project of setting up sewa kendras in cities and villages to deliver services expeditiously is being considered “white elephants” by the new government as they cost the state exchequer Rs 118 crore in the last fiscal.
Seen as remnants of the previous SAD-BJP government, 2,100 sewa kendras, painted in the Akali colours of blue and orange, may be presented in a new avatar by the government that has asked Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh to prepare a proposal to this effect.
Sources said the government was preparing to dissolve the Right to Service Commission under which these sewa kendras were set up. The powers of the commission would be transferred to the deputy commissioners of respective districts. Also, an ordinance to dissolve the commission is being mulled at the next Cabinet meeting.
Sewa Kendras provide about 67 services. Prominent among those include applying for various documents at one centre with a minimal fee. The kendras provide services related to birth and death certificates, arms licence, power supply bill, water and sewerage bill, tenant verification among many others defined under the Punjab Right to Services Act, 2011.
A government functionary said most of the sewa kendras do not even receive more than five to 10 applications a month. “The kendras are unable to make resources enough to pay salaries of the employees.”
The government wants to make the kendras self-reliant. “We do not want these centres to go. We want them to provide services but they are a burden on the state exchequer on the already fund-crunched state. The CS has been asked to come up with a proposal within a fortnight to transform them in such a way that these are able to generate resources,” said a functionary.
Around 1400 kendras have been set up in villages and 700 in cities with the aim of minimising public interaction with various offices and enhance efficiency and delivery of services. The centres don the Akali government’s logo: Raj Nahi Sewa (Service Not Rule).