With elections in mind, is Khanduri playing to the gallery ?

Dehra Dun : The governments in Uttarakhand have been notorious of coming out with various laws merely to play to the gallery rather than ensuring that they are implemented in letter and spirit for the welfare of the people or the ecology and environment of the state.

Apparently the purpose has been to hog the headlines in the media and get cheap popularity for short term political gains rather than long term benefits to the people.

Plastic ban only in name
Though there are quite a few examples that can be quoted, but perhaps the most obvious one is the law enforced by the previous chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal banning the use of plastic in the state.

But it is used freely right from the road side hawkers to the fancy shops in the Malls and there is no one in the official machinery to question how the use of plastic bags continues despite the ban.

In a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday, chief minister BC Khanduri loudly declared that in the coming session of the Vidhan Sabha later this month the government intends bringing about three major legislations.

One is to confiscate the benami property and ill-gotten wealth, the other to enforce a citizen’s charter which will ensure that the necessary services are provided to the citizens within a month and to expedite cases of corruption in special courts so that the guilty are punished.

The services included in the citizen’s charter are ration cards, driving licences, proof of income certificates, proof of caste certificates, revenue matters, permanent residence certificates, registration of documents, approval of construction maps, water and power connections, registration of vehicles and birth and death certificates.

All these have to be provided in a month failing which the concerned babus will be held responsible and fined.

However, the residents of the state who have been running from pillar to post and shelling out money as bribe to get these very things done are skeptical that the new law, as and when enacted will bring any change at the ground level.

For over three months now people have been going day-in and day-out to get a ration card and they are conveniently told that there are no ration cards in stock.

Officials claim that the government is not supplying ration cards so how can they make them. Who will be punished in such a case, the officials or the concerned minister or the chief minister for apparently the fault is of the government to provide the ration cards to the department.

And as for driving licences and registration of vehicles, nothing moves at the RTO office, unless it comes through the large number of touts that throng the place.

The government is aware of it and a truckload of PAC constable were sent to the office on Tuesday morning just to remove the touts from outside the office. But as soon as the constables went away the touts returned to do business.

The presence of touts in every office of the state government departments is taken for granted.

The question that citizens seem to be asking is whether Major General Khanduri, who made a name for himself as an administrator during his stint at the centre as the union minister for surface transport, but got caught in the web of sycophants during his earlier term as chief minister of Uttarakhand, means business in passing the three new legislations, or is he just playing for time with the coming Vidhan Sabha elections in mind.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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