Sunday, June 23, 2024

Misbehaviour by SPTS drivers


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This is to bring to public attention the arrogant and “couldn’t care less” attitude of the drivers of the Shillong Public Transport Service (SPTS) buses and vehicles. These buses pick up and drop at places convenient to them. They don’t care if as a result a traffic jam builds up. Unfortunately even the traffic police don’t dare to confront them as they are driving with an ML 01 registration and feel like they also have a VIP status. The Motphran Point is where the attitude of these SPTS drivers is most visible. Honking at them does no good. Instead they reply back saying they are waiting for passengers and won’t move unless they are filled to more than the maximum capacity. Traffic police don’t supervise the movement of these buses and don’t dare to snatch their keys and licences like they do with local cabbies. Hope this letter is read by the management of these SPTS buses and stern action is taken against them, since we are all bound by the same laws.

Yours etc.,

Nathaniel Fancon,

Shillong -6

 State of states report


The state of the States report for 2012 published by the India Today magazine of (November 12, 2012) placed Meghalaya in the 7th position out of 10 small states in matters of governance. This is down by four places from the report of 2011 where Meghalaya was placed in the 3rd position. Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh fare better than Meghalaya. However, the poor performance of Meghalaya is expected because in the last one year the political class dwelt more on rhetoric and tall promises with nothing substantial to show on the ground. The Chief Minister who often talks of good governance has not yet delivered on his promises. While some may have a logical view that the various projects and schemes announced by him are yet to manifest their worth, many others are of the view that good governance is evident in the day to day delivery of goods and services to the people. Poor service delivery, delayed completion of important projects, bad roads, frequent power breakdowns, sometimes for days together in villages , erratic water supply, traffic jams are the irritants which people continue to bear grudgingly. Add to the list outright irregularities, indifference, scams, nepotism, militancy, environmental degradation which affect people directly and we can says that governance is absent. There is also a hypocrisy in the set up which shows that ordinary citizens do not really matter. Just imagine that it takes the Hon’ble Court to direct the police to register an FIR in a serious case which involves a Minister while a journalist was immediately harassed by the police on flimsy grounds. Coming back to governance, the bureaucracy which seems to simply toe the line of the political class is equally responsible for the poor show. This is a huge disappointment to the public at large. We expect more aggressiveness, courage and dynamism from the leader of the bureaucracy being a local person himself. Post 2013 it still remains to be seen as to whether positive changes will be ushered in though, not much can be expected given the present political scenario. Seems like the people of Meghalaya must continue to bear the plight of ineffective governance!

Yours etc.,

Robert Sawkmie,

Shillong -4

 Dummy’s guide for passport application


 The Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) website says that Passport Seva Project aims “to deliver all passport-related services to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner and in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained and motivated workforce.” Moved by these adjectives and cursed by the need to move out of the State and even country for employment I decided to apply for my “Fresh” passport. They type of application I chose was the infamous “Tatkaal” (which will remind all readers how travel agents extort huge cash when we need a “tatkaal” railway ticket). The website for PSK is a helpful one and a show piece for much hyped e-governance. There is a button called “Document Advisory” where one has to click the right options and the system will advise the applicant what the required documents are. The process of filling up the application online and fixing an appointment made me feel like e-governance would really solve the woes of ordinary citizen (at least for the ones who have access to internet).

Hence, armed with the advised document and a ”Tatkaal” appointment, I took a cab to Guwahati (despite my acute motion sickness and the bad roads). I reached the PSK 30 minutes ahead of my appointment and informed the counter that I had an appointment since there was such a long queue in the “Tatkaal” section. Before I could complete my sentence the person on the other side of the counter replied that an appointment is of no consequence. All have to stand in the queue. Two hours after my appointment my turn came. The counter-man goes through my name and seeks my documents and so I put them forward. He says he cannot accept my application as it does not have Annexure “F”. I told the counter- man that the website clearly says that its Annexure “F” or “3 out of 15 documents listed ” and advised him to check the website, and demanded to see his superior. I took an appointment to seek the Assistant Passport Officer (APO) and after a wait of another hour or so as I was told that a minister is visiting and all were busy. I was asked to meet another official. This official used a phrase “Not Applicable For NE Region ( NAFNER).” I demanded that the official show me the NAFNER in the website. He said he understood my plight but was helpless. So I demanded to meet his superior and was taken to the APO. The official explained the case to the APO. The APO too was helpless and says he was aware of what is in the advisory but he could not accept the application. He suggested that I write a complaint about this issue and the best that he could do is take it to his superior. This is something to be said about the tall claims on the website.

Let down by NAFNER I came back to Shillong and went to the Superintendent of Police, East Khasi Hills where another surprise awaited me. I was asked for certain mandatory documents and advised to visit my local Police Station, where I was interviewed and similar documents were asked which I promptly provided. When I went to the SP’s office on an advised date as prescribed in Annexure “F” my document was ready. I was taken by surprise at the promptness with which my case was handled. Kudos to the SP’s office East Khasi Hills which knew what they were doing and provided the document with no official or “unofficial” cost to the applicant. This made me believe that there is still hope for ordinary citizens. The Department, in fact, provided me two original copies of the same document (Two copies in original is another NAFNER issue. It amounts to saying that if I double pay the PSK they should issue two original copies of my passport).

In conclusion, NAFNER is a term that all of us have to be accustomed to. I am amazed to see that all those who applied for passport through “Tatkaal”, never found that the information in the website is in conflict with what is happening on the ground. Anyway, those who will be applying for a passport should do their homework properly.

Yours etc,.

Narottam Subedi

Shillong 2


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