Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directive to secretaries of various union ministries to cut decision-making to a maximum of four layers has reminded people of Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation about a similar system put in place by former municipal commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi in August last year. It is being implemented after his transfer.
Last week, Union Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth following Prime Minister’s interaction with union secretaries had sent a note to them listing 11 directions to improve work culture.
PCMC officials said a similar system is being implemented in Pimpri-Chinchwad. “The system of ‘decision-making at maximum four layers’ is being implemented with all seriousness in PCMC,” said assistant municipal commissioner Uday Tekale.
For years, citizens had to approach at least 9-10 departments to get a proposal approved. They had to wait for months, even years to get files approved. “What was shocking was citizens had to pay heavy bribes to get files approved,” said Domnic Lobo of Common People’s Front which had several run-ins with the civic admnistration a few years back over corruption in the civic body.
Now, said Tekale, files do not go beyond four layers. “They will be approved at the fourth table…The then commissioner Pardeshi ensured approval did not go to the fifth department,” he said. Significantly, the system involves delegation of powers.
Files pending clearance for months was another irritant. “In our current system, the deadline is 45 days. If a file is pending beyond that we take disciplinary action. In the last 10 months, two staffers faced action for delay in clearing files,” Tekale said.
When contacted, Pardeshi, now the State IGR, said, “We had to implement the system because the new Maharashtra Mahanagarpalika Act had a provision for it.”
Pardeshi said before that there were 8 to 9 layers. “There were delays in decision making. Even normal files were kept pending for 2-3 months. It was observed there was corruption as decisions on files were deliberately delayed…” What was noticeable, Pardeshi said, once a clerk prepared the note, it directly went to the top… there was no application of mind from officials in between. We stopped this practice…” he said.
Taking timely policy decisions, conducting random inspections, dissemination of information, appointment of vigilance squads and setting up an official to take up citizens complaints and suggestions on priority were some of the steps he suggested.