Saturday, June 28, 2014

Single Window Clearance

Now that Modi is comfortably ensconced in 7, Race Course Road, the corporates are salivating. They are expecting a bonanza of clearances just like they were demanding forever, including the famed “Single Window Clearance”. The corporates speak in one voice and that makes it loud and near impossible to ignore.
What about the common man? This post is in the cause of these souls and I have taken it upon myself to argue in their favor.
Actually, the argument is in my favor, based on the difficulties I have faced very recently in terms of clearances for this and that as I was shifting my household from Delhi to Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. However, saying that I am arguing for myself is no way to gather a crowd and make the noise any louder. Hence I have disguised my selfishness as altruism!
I had to surrender my cooking gas connection and get the transfer papers. I went with the current papers, the regulator and the two cylinders to the gas agency. The people at the agency were very nice, but they told me two things. One, I have to surrender the gas cylinders at their storage facility, which fortunately was merely across the street. Two, the server was not working and therefore I have to come another day for getting the transfer certificate.
Here is one place I felt a single window clearance would have done things better. Why couldn’t the agency take it upon itself to get the cylinders to its own storage facility? Why was the customer put to this hassle? OK, I am not blaming the server not working on the gas agency. Yet, the net effect was I had to make a detour, to the storage facility in the first instance, and secondly I had to go the agency the next day because of system malfunction (shades of wardrobe malfunction?). I believe the agency could save the customers at least the detour.
Next comes my experience at MTNL, to surrender my landline. This was truly worse and almost unbearable. There are two offices of MTNL within about 300 meters of each other, one, the exchange and the other, the commercial office. I went to the exchange first. I was asked to show the latest receipt. I said that I paid at their website and have not taken a print out of the receipt. I wonder why MTNL could not have given a facility to check bill payment details at the desk of this officer. Then, he made a big song and dance about how he has to go into another room to get my payment details verified. I was not feeling sympathetic towards him given that I had taken enough trouble locating this office. He sure can amble down the corridor.
Anyways, after confirming that I am not delinquent, he asked me to surrender the instrument and the modem at another room and get a slip saying that I have done so. I duly did this. The officer scribbled a whole lot of gibberish on my application for surrender.
Next, he told me that whatever monies due me will reach me in due time, say, three months. I was taken aback. Here is an information system provider who would take three months to settle a customer’s dues! This is anachronistic, to say the least, and arrogant, if one wished to be a little more upfront. This is antediluvian. I asked the officer that I am leaving Delhi in another couple of days and how I can get my dues (approx. Rs. 3,000, no chicken feed) back. He asked me to go the other office where the commercial part of the deal will be settled, again in three months. I followed the orders and went to the other office, a full 300 m trek under the hot sun, and gave the address at which the remittance should reach me. After three months. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Why can’t MTNL make their customer’s lives easy and create a single window clearance for cases such as mine and others too, of a similar kind? Why this rigmarole?
On the one hand Modi is going to help out corporates get their clearances at a single window while common people will have to jump through impossible hoops to get what are their legitimate dues.
Something does not compute here.
Raghuram Ekambaram


Palahalli Vishwanath said...

i had the same problem with the telephone guys. Igot my deposit back (after some deductions) six monthslater. This is when we were ina rented house in bangalore. as for electricity, the BEST people harassed a lot when we left bombay. I still dont know what i got was the correct one. Now the Banglaore city corporatin is troubling us. I feel these are the rites of paassage to become totally cynical reg civic amenities in this country

Indian Satire said...

Raghu I will be running short of a friend in Delhi. Hope that the new Government brings in single window clearance for citizens especially in utility service and house construction.

mandakolathur said...

Pala, I suspected that the experience is universal and the few comments I have got pretty much confirms that. Your take that this is how one makes a citizen cynical is a new one on me! The consequence is that he/she becomes less demanding. Yes, you are right.


mandakolathur said...

Balu, I should be available in this space for a while, at least a few years after blogs become passé! House construction is a troublesome thing, because no one is beyond cutting corners. The harassment is almost exclusively on the count, I would say.