By Nageshwar Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, March 26, 2018: The Odisha Right to Public Services (ORTPS) Act, 2012 virtually has remained a non-starter according to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in the state assembly here on Monday.

“Departments could not provide required information on public services in Odia language to common public. The services were not provided within the prescribed time limit. The reasons for delay in providing the services, the period within which an appeal can be preferred were also not communicated to the applicants”, the report observes.

The ORTPS Act is billed as a landmark initiative undertaken by the Naveen Patnaik led Biju Janata Dal government as it aimed at ushering good governance and transparency in provision of all public services to the citizens within a stipulated time.

This law enabled the citizens to demand delivery of public services as a right. It also included provisions for approaching Appellate Authorities (AAs) and Revisional Authorities (RAs) to redress the grievances of applicants in the process of delivery of services. It even made provisions for imposition of penalty in case of default by the Subordinate Staff, Designated Officers (DOs) and Appellate Authorities (AAs).

What is worse is that the Central Monitoring System was not utilised even after four years of notification of the Act and Rules. “The existing applications/databases of three Departments viz., VAHAN, SARATHI, VATIS and OeSL were not integrated with the CMS. Thus, the objective of ushering good governance and transparency in providing public services within a stipulated time was defeated. Even small delays or shortfalls against intended levels of performance in delivering public services can have a deep impact on citizens”, the CAG remarked.

During the audit, CAG team verified records of test checked units of the four departments and observed that out of the four test checked departments information in Odia language on Public Services was not displayed in the official website of Excise, CT and C&T (T) Department. The given time limit was also not displayed. The R&DM Department had displayed four services notified during 2013. However, one service added subsequently in 2015 was displayed in August 2017 at the instance of audit.

Interestingly, information on right to services was not displayed on the notice board in Odia by the any DOs of Excise Department and C&T (T) Department. Out of 32 notified services, only 13 services were displayed by one DO under C&T (T), namely, RTO, Cuttack.

Further, the acknowledgements were not issued to the applicants in any of the test checked units. The deficiency in documentation in the service application was not intimated to all the applicants.

“This deprived the general public of utilising the provisions of the Act and Rules to their advantage. The applicants remained unaware of the time limits for delivery of services as no acknowledgements were issued,” the report stated.

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