The delivery of good governance depends on a fine coordination between the legislative and executive branches of government and an understanding of the aspirations of the people.
Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant’s meeting with the bureucracy – officers of the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service – on a Sunday and directions to them to identify key challenges in the departments to improve efficiency and simplify the delivery service to the people within a definite time frame will bear results only if the adminstration shakes off the lethargy that has seeped in and takes this up as a challenge itself.
That actually will be the first test the bureaucracy will face – their readniness to deliver on time. But it won’t happen unless the government – the Chief Minister and his cabinet colegaues – keep the government servants from slacking or slackening their pace of work. It would indeed be a welcome sight to see the bureaucracy delivering on time, but what they should deliver on is the needs and demands of the people. It would be contrary to the purpose if what is expedited are measures to serve certain interests, rather than for the greater good of the people of the State. We have just seen how the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority made a presentation of the management plan that has been roundly criticised by elected representatives and the people, and finally rejected by the government.
But let’s go just a little in the past. In recent months the State has been fined twice for failures to deliver – once by the Indian Olympic Association for the repeated postponement of the National Games and the second time by the National Green Tribunal for the failure to take action against temporary structures constructed along the beaches of Morjim, Mandrem, Galgibag and Agonda without specific permission from GCZMA in the No Development Zone (NDZ). Such inefficiency should not repeat, which makes it imperative upon the bureaucracy to shore up their performance. We are exactly three months away from meeting the October 2, 2019 deadline to be open defecation free. Goa is still to achieve this status, lagging behind all other States. Shouldn’t this be expedited so that the State doesn’t get shamed for its failure?
These all are examples of the bureaucracy and the government failing in their duties. Let’s admit it loudly and clearly that accountability in government – legislative or administrative – is almost non-existent in Goa. The State is empowered with the Goa Right of Citizen to Time Bound Delivery of Public Services Act, but how this law is implemented and whether it has made any difference to the people by giving them better service is debatable. There is also the provision to file public grievances online and have a resolution to them, but again the efficacy of this system is questionable. The Chief Minister at his meeting with the officials directed that redressal of public grievances be a priority. The administrative staff exists as public servants and have the duty to perform and deliver within a stipulated timeframe. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be what the bureaucracy belives and how it works.
Good governance, however, does not mean only delivery of services but also being tuned in to the needs people. The gram sabhas are a reflection and an indication of the wants of the people. Across the State there are issues being brought up and most deal with very local problems that the people face and want a resolution to. It is these issues that have to be taken up by the administration to be resolved and closed. A case in point is how the garbage management is snnowballing into a crisis simply because it has been not handled at the right time.