In a positive development, the Centre has decided to reduce resolution time of public grievances, raised on a dedicated portal, to a maximum of 30 days from the existing 45 days. Besides, it has been decided that a complaint received from a citizen will not be closed until an appeal filed against it is disposed.
“The disposed grievance will be treated as closed unless the citizen has filed the appeal. If the appeal is received from the citizen against the disposed grievance, the grievance will be treated as closed only after disposal of appeal,” said an order issued by the department of administrative reforms and public grievances (DARPG). The move follows the government’s emphasis on effective implementation of public grievance redressal mechanism with disposal of grievance within minimum possible time, but with maximum possible satisfaction of the complainant.
DARPG, which is under the Union ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions, said it has undertaken a comprehensive reform of the centralised public grievance redress and monitoring system (CPGRAMS)—an online portal that allows people to raise complaint against government bodies—to make it more responsive to the needs of the citizens. The government wants the citizens’ voices to be heard and wants them to repose trust in the system, it said. Last year, DARPG had reduced the maximum time limit to 45 days from 60 days to resolve public grievances.
Union minister of state (independent charge) science & technology, Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also minister incharge administrative reforms also pointed out that in various monthly ‘Pragati’ (pro-active governance and timely implementation) review meetings, the prime minister (PM) himself reviews the status of public grievances.
He said, the twin factors of people’s satisfaction and time redressal of grievances has led to about a 10-fold increase in public grievance cases since this government came to power in 2014 and this also reflects the trust citizens have shown in the government. The public grievances have increased from 200,000 in 2014 to more than 2,200,000 at present with more than 95% disposal of cases.
Dr Jitendra Singh said the latest order mandates that the grievances received on CPGRAMS shall be resolved promptly as soon as they are received but within a maximum period of 30 days and, in case the redress is not possible within the prescribed time-frame due to the circumstances such as sub-judice matters/policy issues, etc, an interim/appropriate reply shall be given to the citizen. He said this measure will go a long way in furthering the citizen-centric governance, as the government is ensuring that grievances are disposed as expeditiously as possible.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that CPGRAMS 7.0 has also enabled auto-routing of grievances to last-mile grievance officers, along with improved data analytics using digital dashboards. He added that as many as 3,023,894 grievances were received in 2021 (of which 2,135,923 were disposed), 3,342,873 in 2020 (2,319,569 disposed), and 2,711,455 in 2019 (1,639,852 disposed.
The DARPG has asked all departments to appoint nodal grievance resolution officers and to empower them adequately to resolve public complaints.
The order states that citizens will be provided the option to file an appeal if they are not satisfied with the grievance disposed of and the feedback received from citizens by the call centre will be shared with ministries or departments who would be responsible to deal with the feedback and to make systemic improvements.
To institutionalise the mechanism of grievance resolution, and to ensure quality disposal, the secretary of the ministry/department may review the disposal process in senior officers meetings, the DARPG said. Ministries/departments may also monitor complaints which may be raised in print and electronic media, the order said. All ministries/departments have also been asked to regularly analyse the trend of grievances and conduct a ‘root cause analysis’.
“Based on the analysis of the grievances, the ministry/ department may take remedial measures,” the order said. To achieve the objectives of the CPGRAMS, and to satisfactorily resolve the grievances of the citizens, all ministries and departments need to review, streamline and strengthen their internal resolution mechanisms, it noted. The DARPG said it will also organise training programmes in collaboration with the Institute of Secretarial Training and Management (ISTM) here in this regard.
The Centre received over 5,70,969 public grievances against various government departments between 1 January 2022 to 31 July 2022, with the department of financial services (DFS) getting most of such complaints.
Out of these complaints received on the CPGRAMS portal, as many as 5,81,137 were disposed. The department of financial services (banking division), ministry of labour and employment, central board of direct taxes, ministry of railways are the top ministries which received the maximum number of grievances. The ministry of cooperation also features in the list of maximum grievances receiving ministries.
Interestingly, when we looked for the data on pendency of complaints, we found that as many as 1,697 complaints to health and family welfare department were pending for more than 180 days but less than 365 days. There are many other ministries where cases are pending beyond the 45-day resolution limit.