The Punjab government is all set to overhaul former Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal’s dream project of delivery of citizen services through Sewa Kendras, which were set up under Punjab Right to Services Act, 2011. The state has decided to repeal the Act and bring a new one — Punjab Transparency and Accountability in Delivery of Public Services Bill, 2018 in the upcoming Budget session. Under the new Act, the citizens will not only get services in a time bound matter but would also be able to track the status of their application. Under it, only 500 out of 2100 Sewa Kendras will function. The rest would be put to use by the government as per the suggestions by Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh. These Sewa Kendras provide 67 services under one roof.
The Cabinet that met here Tuesday gave a nod to the draft of the Bill aimed at boosting efficiency, transparency and accountability in the delivery of citizen services. The Cabinet also decided to set up a sub-committee on governance reforms. It also gave ex-post facto approval to the constitution of Punjab Governance Reforms and Ethics Commission (PGREC). The commission has been mandated with bringing transparency, accountability and efficiency in all government departments. The Commission has also been entrusted with the task of making recommendations to government departments to undertake structural reforms in various areas of governance. A retired IAS officer, KR Lakhanpal, is already heading the Governance Reforms Commission of Punjab.
The legislation being brought in by Department of Governance Reforms and Public Grievances to overcome the shortcomings and weaknesses in the existing Right to Service Act 2011, include back-end computerisation of all public services within three to five years, online receipt of service requests as a mandatory provision and electronic delivery of services to citizens in a time-bound manner.
Other features include a system of incentives and also disincentives for the public authorities and their staff, intimation or tracking of application status by the applicants through Mobiles or Internet regarding their service requests, and simplified redressal/appeal mechanism.