Khattar’s ‘good governance’ shakes up Haryana bureaucracy
By Jaideep Sarin
Suspension, dismissal, disciplinary action, censure, registration of cases and other forms of tough action — officials of government departments in Haryana’s 21 districts have been rattled by tough and sometimes punitive actions ordered by the government of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in recent months.
Bitten by the “good governance” bug, Khattar has unleashed 21 “high calibre” individuals — one for each district in Haryana (the 22nd district was announced recently), under the Chief Minister’s Good Governance Associates (CMGGAs) programme.
These associates have been mandated to find out what is lacking in the public delivery systems in various departments and the corrective measures that need to be taken.
Even though the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which often refer to Khattar and his government as being inexperienced and weak in administration, have criticised the CMGGA saying these individuals who report directly to Khattar’s office are extra-constitutional authorities, the government has gone ahead and initiated strict action against officials who, in its perception, have failed to deliver on the “good governance” promise.
Complaints coming to the CM Window are attended to by the CMGGAs and referred to the departments concerned for redressal.
On October 20, the Haryana government ordered the dismissal of two doctors and suspension of two officers. It also ordered that show-cause notices be served to five others for dereliction of duty in redressing the complaints received.
“Nodal officers (of departments) have been directed to redress the grievances received on CM Window on priority basis and laxity in this regard would not be tolerated as per the orders of the Chief Minister,” said Khattar’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Bhupeshwar Dayal.
If there is a complaint against an official, the responsibility to investigate such cases is being entrusted to a senior officer.
“If any complainant withdraws his complaint without its redressal, then the nature of complaint would also be considered to find out any possibility of nexus between the alleged accused and complainant,” Dayal said.
In September, Khattar himself suspended five officers of different departments and ordered disciplinary action against two for their “lackadaisical attitude” in dealing with complaints received at the CM Window.
He also ordered FIRs against two persons on the basis of complaints. Those suspended included a police officer.
Action has been initiated against around 100 officials since the CMGGA programme was launched on July 1 this year.
“The concept of CM Window has evoked a massive response from the public and action is being taken to redress complaints. The CM Window was opened to encourage people to send their complaints directly to the Chief Minister without travelling to Chandigarh,” Khattar’s Additional Principal Secretary Rakesh Gupta said.
Till now, the CM Window is functional at district headquarters and a total of 205,000 complaints have been received. Of these, nearly 185,000 complaints have been redressed.
“We will open the CM Windows at the sub-divisional level as well. All loopholes in the offline and online functioning of offices would be fixed to weed out all sorts of corruption. Strict action would be taken against individuals indulging in such delinquent practices,” Khattar said at a recent meeting with CMGGAs and top officers.
“The observations of CMGGA have become a base for good governance, the impact of which would be felt later. The aim of the present government is to provide hassle-free delivery of services to the public,” Khattar said.
After the SDM offices, the next target would be the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) offices and the police department to make public delivery corruption- and hassle-free.
The CMGGA programme, announced in April this year, got over 2,300 applications for the Haryana government from candidates from premier institutes like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), top medical colleges and universities. All selected CMGGAs are under 30 years of age.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at email@example.com)