Karnataka govt banks on services guarantee scheme to boost image

Mired in factional rivalry and corruption charges, the four-year-old first BJP government in Karnataka is harping on its services guarantee scheme, Sakala, to salvage its image as it hits the final lap in power. Launched in April under the Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens Act, 2011, and modelled on similar schemes in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir, the state government has been flaunting the scheme as its one major achievement.

The scheme initially guaranteed delivery of some 90 government services in 10 key departments of the state government within a maximum period of 100 days. Apart from online and SMS tracking facilities, it also promised compensation for delays in service delivery. Among others, the scheme guarantees a driving licence or a trade licence in 30 days, a land ownership extract in three-seven days, a water connection in 30 days and maintenance of drinking water supplies or fixing street lights in three days.

According to report cards on the scheme, ever since it was introduced, it has serviced 1.32 crore public requests with an application disposal rate of 97 per cent.

In eight months, it has also paid Rs 1,460 as compensation in five cases for not delivering on time. The rate is Rs 20 for a day's delay.

The scheme has now been expanded to 265 services across 30 departments. But while state government continues to trumpet the scheme's success, many departments continue to lag in processing requests.

Government offices in urban areas like Bangalore, where around 5 lakh applications are processed a month, are among the non-performers while the less populated districts like Kodagu have done consistently well.

Case report officers of the scheme say that they frequently intervene with departments to ensure service delivery of land ownership records or copies of FIRs.

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