SARATHI draws national attention,PCMC corporators cut to size

52 calls a day,361 hits on helpline website; 65% are information seekers,35% complainants,say officials

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune | Published: December 2, 2013 2:11:56 am

Even as top officers from across the country,including those from the Central government,are descending on Pimpri-Chinchwad to take a peek into this e-governance initiative that has earned national acclaim for Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation,SARATHI continues to blaze a trail. While citizens in the twin industrial town are increasingly taking to SARATHI,corporators are grumbling that they are fast losing their importance and identity.

SARATHI,a short form for System of Assisting Residents and Tourists Through Helpline Information,was inaugurated by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Independence Day this year. In just over 100 days,the SARATHI helpline centre (8888 00 6666) has received as many as 5,747 complaints from citizens,of which 90 per cent are claimed to have been resolved. As many 10,636 calls have been received from citizens seeking information regarding various civic services,civic departments,modes of making applications,seeking permissions and related things.

As on December 1,2013,

the SARATHI website (pcmchelpline.in) had received 39,000 hits. On an average,it receives 152 calls per day and 361 hits on its website. Of these,65 per cent are information seekers and 35 per cent are complainants.

What has wowed the residents is the fact that the solution to their grievance remains just a call away as also “crucial information” regarding documents to be submitted for getting their applications for various work processed. “We had lodged a complaint with SARATHI regarding the tiles loosely fixed on the road near our residence. PCMC officials visited us the very next day and the work started and finished in no time,” said Anita Landge,a resident of Kasarwadi.

Suhas Kulkarni (43),a resident of Shubham Society,Shahu Nagar,had a complaint that his society had not received water for two days. “The complaint was filed on October 27 and in two days,the officials told us that my complaint had been resolved. I also received an SMS to the effect. Since then,we haven’t had any water problem.”

Chandrakant Wable (40) of Shivtej Nagar,Chinchwad,had filed a complaint about overflowing drainage chamber,which was creating health hazard in the area. “I had filed my complaint on November 28,after which the chamber has not overflowed. I have received an SMS from SARATHI stating that my complaint has been resolved,” he said.

Residents said they didn’t have to rush to corporators and wait for days to get their grievances redressed. “By just making a call if citizens get information and their grievance is resolved in quick time,why go to corporators,” asked Sachin Godambe,a resident of Bhosari.

The SARATHI call centre functions from at 7 am to 10 pm. Residents usually call up as early as possible. On Sunday,the first call was received at 7.30 am from one Laxmikant Borkar of Yeshwant Nagar. The majority of complaints are regarding overflowing drainage lines,leaking water pipelines,dog menace and potholes.

After a complaint is received,SARATHI officials immediately sound the department concerned or senior officials. The complainant is given a token number. After the complaint is resolved,officials update the call centre that then sends a compliance report to the complainant. “Some complaints,like leaking water pipelines,are taken up on priority,meaning they are to be resolved in one day,while others related to policy decision require some time,” said an official.

Municipal Commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi said when SARATHI was launched,it provided information about only 28 civic departments. “Recently,we also started giving out information related to ration card,voter ID card,Aadhar card,district collectorate,MIDC,passport office,RTI,IGR and other government departments,” he said. The PCMC has also come out with a SARATHI mobile app for Android and BlackBerry phones that can be downloaded for free.

The PCMC chief said they had also set up a Quality Monitoring Cell to keep track if the complaints received were being looked into. “We crosscheck whether a complaint has been resolved to the satisfaction of the citizens or not. Or,whether it has been wrongly resolved,” he said.

However,Pardeshi said,SARATHI’s thrust was basically information disclosure. “Under RTI Act also,it has become mandatory for voluntary disclosure of information. The helpline is an offshoot of the system,” he said. The civic chief said they would launch a publicity blitzkrieg from Monday to reach out to the masses.

On Saturday,a delegation of top officers,including additional secretaries,deputy secretaries and joint secretaries from across the country,visited PCMC headquarters in Pimpri to have first-hand experience of the e-governance system. The delegation included officers from Jammu and Kashmir,Haryana,Himachal Pradesh,Madhya Pradesh,Andhra Pradesh,Karantaka,Uttar Pradesh,Nagaland,Orissa and Rajasthan. The visit was arranged by the information technology department of the Central government.

“The officers who were given a demonstration of the system spoke highly about it and also talked about replicating it in their homes states,” said a PCMC official.

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