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Govt Service Providers' Consumer Committee/ Council - how effective?

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Governance

Taking over as the MD of BESCOM, Mr Manivannan, IAS, is moving in earnest to set up a 'consumer participatory council', which he insists should have 'bottom upwards' approach, lest it also get labelled elitist, like had happened in the case of BATF and ABIDe.

While discussing its structure at a meeting of some 30 odd interested citizens, representing a wide variety of consumers, as well as active commentators on the state energy scene (where I supposedly fitted in), Mr Somasekhar of Grahak Shakti, claimed that something very similar already exists for BMTC (formed during the tenure of Mr Tripathy, IAS, as the MD), of which he was the Vice Chairman, and that it was achieving many things (After a bit of search on the web, I located Grahak Shakti's blog site - http://grahakshaktiblogs.blogspot.com/, and from there, I got the full name of the set up as BMTC Commuter Advisory and Facilitation Committee, though very little else on its activities proper is available on it). When Mr Y G Muralidharan (CREAT), arguably the best known consumer activist in the city, expressed surprise, Mr Somasekhar turned to me and said that I was aware of the good work being done by the Committee.

I tried to clarify that I was not aware of the work they were doing, but perhaps it didn't quite register to the group, because of the interruptions that followed. Mr Manivannan intervened to say that he had great regards for Mr Tripathy, and if the 'Committee' was working fine, the BESCOM Council should perhaps follow the model. Mr Somasekhar offered his help.

Now, this BMTC Committee was supposedly formed to further the job done by the Commuter Comfort Task Force (CCTF, of which I was the Co-Chairman, and which had a limited and time-bound agenda, unlike the Committee). I had been invited to be on the Committee too, but I declined, since, by the end of the CCTF exercise, I was fairly clear in my mind that only healthy competition can improve the working of BMTC (check this, for more on that), and the Consumer Committee or whatever can have only a limited impact, if at all (In the case of power supply too, it largely holds good, though, since it is essentially a natural monopoly scenario here, there is a slight difference, because of which I see some meaning in working with the proposed Council here).

Now, for all the good work that Mr Somasekhar claims the Committee is doing, the PRAJA team, which pioneered the 'Bus Day' concept, and has been interacting regularly with the BMTC officials, seems totally unaware of its presence. They too didn't appear to have reached out to the PRAJA team, inspite of all the publicity that 'Bus Day' generated (Was it a case of reverse discrimination against the techie lot, that the PRAJA team is generally seen to be?). Surprisingly, neither did the BMTC officials make much of an effort to put the two together.

Also, very few people seemed to know of the Committee's existence even, leave alone the good work it claims to be doing. Even someone like Mr K V Pathy, who was a member of the CCTF, and who is arguably the ultimate BMTC commuter, doing well over 90% of the trips he makes on BMTC buses (and consequently, most knowledgeable about its operations), only recently heard that something like a Consumer Committee existed, and he asked me if I knew about it. My response (click here) was that I saw it generally as a body created essentially to fulfill the JNNURM mandate, and little else beyond that.

Leave alone the techie lot. Is the Committee helping improve the services for the 'aam aadmi', it apparently represents? I am quite skeptical, from an overall perception of BMTC's functioning.

Well, that much for the BMTC Committee. Very clearly, that cannot be the model for BESCOM, if one were to ask me.

Muralidhar Rao
 

Comments

pathykv's picture

Consumer/BMTC

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84 users have liked.

We have good rapport with BMTC as evident from Dec. 22nd meeting (details still awaited from Pranav/Naveen).

We can keep it up and take it forward.

K.V.Pathy

Mani1972's picture

BESCOM participation committee

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77 users have liked.

Dear Friends,

The BESCOM participatory committee (BPC) is an attempt to reduce the gap between those who serve (BESCOM) and those who are served (Citizens).

It is earnestly hoped that an open channel between a service entity and the customers will benefit both.

We are open to any idea. The main thrust will be to have it democratic, broad based and scientific, so that it survives and serves the purpose.

We are definitely not looking at something like aBIDE or BATF (without due regards to both the organisations). We are also not looking at the BMTC model which has got limited role. We are looking at a representative organisation which will have the sincerity, and positive outlook, and engage BESCOM at all levels, and all decisions. (both vertical and horizontal reach)

Till we finalise on the format, we can go ahead with adhoc committees, at all the three levels. It will also give us experience that will help us in the due course.

We are immediately looking at 3 important tasks:

1.    Budget for 2011-2012. We want BPC to work with us on that.

2.    How to give new service connection in 2 weeks? (FIFO concept plus simplification?)

3.    Working on the formalisation of BPC. Systems and procedures.

 

Our officers in BESCOM like Shri. Sathya Premkumar, Shri. Ravi, and Shri. Balaram are very positive and willing to give their best. The citizens should not lose this win-win opportunity.

Let’s hope that all the 3 tasks are successfully completed by January 15th. Till then, may I suggest a mandatory weekly meeting of the BPC on every Saturday at 6pm?

 

 

 

Manivannan

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