September 2010

Citizen-centric!

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Sanjog Helpline is working well as a grievance redressal system that prods field officials until a complaint is resolved

Project Name
Sanjog Helpline

The organisation

Department of Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare, Government of Orissa

Key People

  • Manoj Ahuja, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Department of Steel & Mines, Orissa
  • Ashok K K Meena, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, FSCW Department, Orissa
  • S K Basistha, Managing Director, Orissa State Civil Supplies Corporation

Problems & Challenges

Leakages in state PDS system

  • Delays in addressing PDS beneficiaries’ grievances
  • Near opaque grievance redressal system
  • Lack of  accountability among the concerned
  • The Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare (FSCW) Department is one of the premier bodies in Orissa. Its functions cover formulation and implementation of policy relating to procurement, storage and distribution of food grains and implementation of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

    With a population of around 3.6 crore, of which 38 lakh families are still below the poverty line, Orissa is one of the front runners in the implementation of PDS. But the state grapples with various issues of malfunctioning of the system, including leakages and diversion of PDS commodities. In such a scenario, a mechanism was required where the government and the citizens could both reap benefits and smooth implementation of PDS could be effected.

    The solution

    In its endeavour to achieve unhindered PDS goals, the FSCW department, Orissa, initiated an integrated grievance redressal mechanism, Sanjog Helpline, through a dedicated call centre.

    Earlier, a complainant had to travel miles to a Block Development Officer (BDO) office and stand in queues on a particular day and register complaint regarding PDS. The BDO thereafter, filed a petition and sent a letter to the field officer of the Food and Supply Department to enquire and file a report. Such activities made the process time taking and also often resulted in uninvited prosecution.

    Now, through Sanjog Helpline citizens can register any type of complaint without any apprehension. It is a centralised call center for citizens, manned by call center executives (CCE) who receive calls on a toll free number 155335. Citizens can register their complaints through five different communication channels—the Web portal www.sanjoghelpline.in, fax, letter, SMS and the toll free number.

    Having multi-channel communication ensures that the complaint is registered at Sanjog helpline positively. After registration by the CCE, the citizens get a unique ticket number which helps them to track the status of their grievance anytime, with the help of the toll free number or the Web portal. The built-in intelligent system of Sanjog identifies the last level officer who is responsible for the jurisdiction and notifies him about the grievance in real time through SMS, e-mail and fax for immediate action.

    The system ensures disposal of grievances by escalating the grievance to the higher authorities if it is not resolved in the stipulated time. The software is unique as it notifies the field-level government officer in real time via SMS in codes to look into the problem and in parallel follows the government channels where it generates a letter in the same format as a government letter, which is automatically faxed and e-mailed besides posting over the Internet.

    “The software was designed to counter the inherent problems in paper based reporting system at various block offices”, says Manoj Ahuja, Commissionercum- Secretary, Department of Steel and Mines, Orissa. And who should know better, for Ahuja is the man who was instrumental in rolling out this FSCW project during his earlier posting as the department’s Commissioner-cum-Secretary.

    What’s more, the solution has  helped in improving the performance assessment module by creating a well defined escalation procedure, with the automated system sending faxed letters and SMSs to higher officials in the hierarchy of the scheme, if the action-taking authority is not able to resolve the issue within the stipulated time period.

    After the implementation of Sanjog helpline, it has become imperative for all officers to solve issues pertaining to their locality. Else, their status on Sanjog HelpLine will display lack of activity and the system will automatically send them email, fax and SMS reminding them of the pending jobs.

    Ashok Kumar Kaluaram Meena, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Department of FSCW says, “Sanjog Helpline has metamorphosed the complete inspection and reporting activity of the district level offices from an ad hoc process to a perennial process requiring little intervention. It is also a step towards strategic m-Governance.”

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