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Technology for the People

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Gujarat takes a technology-based approach for addressing public grievances

A K Sharma, Secretary to the Chief Minister and CEO, Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board

The State Wide Attention on Grievances through Application of Technology (SWAGAT) initiative is an exemplary programme that has won several accolades including the UN  Public Service Award in 2010. Initiated in 2003, SWAGAT has been running very  successfully for the last eight years. SWAGAT owes its inception to the Hon’ble Chief Minister  of Gujarat who believes that an effective grievance redressal system is extremely important. Developed almost completely by NIC, the scheme has impacted 208,416 applicants and  almost 91 percent of cases have been resolved. Various types of grievances, some even  involving changes in government policy, and long-pending cases have been resolved through the system.

Benefits of SWAGAT

Before the launch of SWAGAT, public grievances were not handled systematically. The  paper-based process was cumbersome and lengthy and there was no mechanism for  monitoring and follow-up. There was no transparency in the system and officials had no fear  of being exposed. Further, the common man had no access to the higher authority. SWAGAT  has brought in transparency and during the sessions, all stakeholders are present in  real-time. The Hon’ble CM directly reviews the cases, hence ensuring compliance. Inputs from  everybody including the citizens, key officers and elected representatives are  consid-ered, which ensures fairness of the system. The project has made the highest authority  aware of the nature of problems that exist at the local level. Further, the responsiveness,  accountability and awareness of the local administration have also increased.

The Process

The state-level SWAGAT meeting is conducted on the 4th Thursday of every month. In the  morning, the grievance applications are registered online at SWAGAT Office, details of which  are immediately available to the concerned officers. In the next phase, the officers enter  information and responses online. The Hon’ble Chief Minister and senior officers then interact  with applicants and the district and sub-district officers attend the programme through video- conferencing. Based on the decisions taken, cases are redressed on the same day or in  time-bound manner and all directions given by the Chief Minister are formally recorded.  First-time complaints are handled by at lower levels of administration and unresolved cases  move up the government hierarchy.

The Infrastructure

SWAGAT operates on the Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN) that connects all 26 districts to state data centre with 2-8 Mbps bandwidth. This is based on leased circuits
provided by BSNL, Reliance and Tata Tele Services that interconnect 8,496 district and sub-district offices. 23,017 user IDs have been created for government officers, under this  scheme. The video conferencing centres are located across 26 department offices, 26 district  offices and 239 sub district offices. The platform used is Microsoft Dot Net 2.0 as front-end and  SQL server 2005 as back-end. The system is totally transparent as applicants are given a  unique ID through which they can access their case details and status online from anywhere.

The Impact

The scheme has provided quick relief and satisfaction to the common people when grievances  were addressed at the highest level. Severe action was taken against delinquent officials.  Farreaching policy changes were brought about and administrative processes re-engineered.

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