Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stamp paper, getting a new electricity connection and the bureaucratic processes

As I wonder about the time it took to get an additional meter installed and who should be held responsible for the delays, I wonder whatever happened to the administrative reforms planned by Manmohan Singh. Here are a couple of references I found:

Times of India April 2005:
In keeping with the changed dynamics of governance, as compared to what they were four decades ago, the new body would grapple with new issues like citizen-centric administration, promoting e-governance and crisis management.
Frontline August 2004:
This is not an impossible task; Dr. Manmohan Singh brought about radical reforms to the way the government functioned when he was Finance Minister and did away with licensing and the plethora of approvals that tied up all development initiatives into knots. He did it because he had the unqualified backing of the Prime Minister at the time, without which he would not have been able to push the reforms through. Now that he is the Prime Minister, it is up to him to take the initiative and go ahead with radical reform of the civil services and the way in which they function as the present age requires.
While it is very tempting to blame the officials with whom I dealt, it is obvious that they were just following the rules. The officials with whom I dealt did not create the rules. They probably had no say in even suggesting that perhaps the rules could be modified.

Unfortunately, the people who created such processes are hidden and not visible to us. Fortunately, the Internet gives me a chance to rant against  them:(

A shop keeper had suggested that he will send a contractor and I won't have to visit the Electricity Department even once. But I am retired and the process on the official site seemed straight forward. So, I decided to do it on my own rather than worry about whether an unknown contractor was  taking me for a ride. A few of the steps whose purpose I failed to understand:

  • What's the advantage of a blank cancelled stamp paper? The staff of electricity dept also could not understand it and required another stamp paper with an application for a new connection on it.
  • Why require a certificate from an authorized contractor regarding the load when an engineer from the department comes home to verify it? 
  • Why do two engineers, once before the application is accepted and once before the connection is given, have to visit home to verify the load?
  • What's the point of getting each socket, light bulb, appliance specified in the load requirement? If so, should we not be taking permission of the department before buying any additional appliance?

All this implies that time and effort wasted by the engineers from the electricity department as well. No wonder the bureaucracy is always short staffed.

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