West Bengal Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee on Wednesday inaugurated a grievance redressal mechanism app, ‘Panchayat Pratikar’. An initiative under the World Bank project for the institutional strengthening of Gram Panchayats (ISGP) in Bengal, the project will allow users to submit complaints in three ways — a toll free number, the website and the app.
“It is the first of its kind in the country. We think it will be effective for people under gram panchayats, blocks and zilla parishads. We had noticed that people had to travel across districts just to put in a complaint, and even after that, they sometimes became untraceable. To decrease these incidents, and for better transparency, we have introduced this app,” Mukherjee told reporters here.
All complaints would be recorded, a reply would be given on the mobile and a redressal would be provided within 72 working hours, he added.
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“The status of the complaint will also be traceable on the net or mobile,” Mukherjee said, adding that it was bilingual at the moment, and the department was working to make it more user-friendly and effective.
A senior official of the department said all gram panchayats had a complaint box where people would drop their grievances, but whether those were received was not certain. “The World Bank had been pushing us from the beginning to take such an initiative so that the system is more transparent and coordinated,” he said.
Mukherjee also said that the ISGP had been successfully implemented in 1,000 gram panchayats, and will now be extended to all 3,342 gram panchayats in the state. Of the tentative budget of Rs 1,783 crore, World Bank assistance will be around Rs 1,372 crore, and the state will put in Rs 411 crore.
On the success of the project, Soma Ghosh Moulik from the World Bank said: “When we started the project it was inspired by experiences in Africa and Bangladesh, but now, this project has become a model for others.”
Moulik said this project has shown how local governments can become successful in the delivery of public services with a performance-based mechanism, and increase revenue and tax collection. West Bengal is the only state where the accounting audit of local bodies was done by the CAG, she said.
So far, money from the Finance Commission went to the zilla parishads, but from the 14th Commission onwards, funds will reach the gram panchayats directly, and they will have the freedom to use it, according to the minister.