Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday said the Chief Minister Grievance Cell is always handled by the CMO and the Ministers are not required to attend the same.
Making a statement in the State Assembly over the opposition criticism that the state government is being run by officials, undermining the role of the Ministers, Patnaik said the CM Grievance Cell is handled by the CMO, and as per his directions, officers from the CMO conducted a decentralized grievances cell in all the districts of the state.
He said once the petitions are received, they are sent to concerned departments and questioned, “Where is the issue of Ministers versus officers in this?
The Ministers, the Chief Minister said, have played a major role as heads of departments in resolving the petitions, adding that it’s teamwork at the highest level is professionally done in a democratic setting.
He said, “My government has always given top priority to peoples’ grievance redressal.”
Before Covid happened, the CMO used to hold grievance hearings in Bhubaneswar, and people from all over the state used to come and submit their grievances, and there was a robust system to solve them.
When Covid happened, the CM grievance cell was closed due to restrictions for almost two years. It was restarted after normalcy returned. However, the Chief Minister said the average number of grievances and people coming to the grievance cell had come down post-Covid period.
Patnaik said two years of Covid disruption had caused dislocation in grievance redressal, and he thought of reaching out to the people by taking the CM Grievance Cell to the door steps of the people to cover all blocks and urban local bodies of the state in the shortest period possible.
This mammoth exercise, he said, was carried out in more than 190 locations over a period of six months.
Every day, three to five venues were covered, and in the process, 57,442 petitions were collected from the people. As of today, 43,536 petitions have been resolved or disposed of.
The entire exercise, Patnaik claimed, is transparent and technology-driven. All the petitions, the action taken reports, and the stage of disposal are available in the Janasunani portal, he clarified.
The Chief Minister said this is one of the biggest and most effective people’s grievance redressal exercises carried out by any government in the country.
On the opposition criticism about the officials using the chopper for attending the grievances, Patnaik clarified that it would have taken one and a half years to do the same exercise by road vis-a-vis by chopper.
Every day, conducting three to five meetings in different locations is humanly impossible within a window of 10 am to 3 pm which is convenient to people, he said.
During the last three and a half years, the government has spent about Rs 40 crore on choppers, which is on average Rs 1 to 1.5 crore on choppers every month.
In the past six months, when choppers were used intensively to reach out to the people, the average expenditure was the same, around Rs 1 to 1.5 crore per month.
Patnaik described it as completely false and misleading to say that excess expenditure has been made and said the CM grievance cell has been conducted in all the constituencies in a very professional manner.
This exercise was also used to explain to people the schemes of the state government, the ongoing projects in their areas, and the funds sanctioned for them.
“It was my specific instruction to give timelines for resolving grievances”, Patnaik told the house.
The Chief Minister said the opposition members should be happy that so many grievances in their areas have also been resolved.
“I do not understand how someone can oppose the solving of people’s grievances. Such opposition is anti-people, and people will give them a befitting reply for such an attitude”, he said.
“After all, we are in public service, and people’s grievances are our top priority,” which means “people are happy, people’s representatives are happy. Opposition members should not be unhappy because of political reasons.
“For my government, people come first; resolving people’s issues is a top priority, and I will continue to do so in the best possible manner”, the Chief Minister said.