Did you know that you can complain about your civic issues online to the Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa? The government has launched a website (http://cmcell.tn.gov.in) where citizens can file grievances and receive acknowledgment by email immediately. These petitions are then forwarded to the concerned department for further action. Citizens can also track their grievances using their petition number.
My experience with the online cell has been good. Despite repeated complaints by residents in my locality over many months, no action had been taken to repair the non-functioning street lights in my neighborhood. The departmental store at the end of the street was the only source of light at night. Recently, I heard about the CM online cell and decided to file a petition. The process was quite straightforward and clear. Two days after I filed my petition, I had two officials come home to enquire about my complaint. I pointed them to the non-functioning street lights, and they were fixed within 24 hours.
Encouraged by the prompt action taken, a month later, I filed another complaint about the non-scheduled power cut in my neighborhood. After a week, the issue was sorted, but I wasn’t sure if this was as a result of my petition, so I tracked my grievance online. The status of my petition read that the problem was because the transformer was under-powered and that to address it, the voltage had been increased. I was quite thrilled because immediate action had been taken against complaints made, and because trouble had been taken to provide an explanation as to why the problem had occurred in the first place. This seemed to me as quite a transparent process from start to finish.
I’m not sure how many people in Tamil Nadu are aware of this e-grievance redressal system. This seems promising because one can complain about the frequent civic issues cropping up in slums; such as drainage leaks, poor sanitation facilities, etc. One hopes that they will be addressed, because otherwise, conventional methods such as appealing to the councilor and various engineers may not yield fast results for slum dwellers. Moreover, the degree of success of such systems depends on if and how the poor are benefitted. Nevertheless this is a promising start.
Written by Aishwarya Balasubramanian, researcher, Transparent Chennai
Petitions can otherwise be filed directly at the CM Cell in the Secretariat.