Kerala Kaumudi Online
Tuesday, 23 July 2024 8.23 PM IST

'Green tape operation' is needed


'Red tapism' is a phrase coined by foreigners to refer to the slow disposal of files in government offices. Although the phrase was coined several years ago, the officials in government offices in Kerala are yet to find a solution to the issue of red tapism. The same Chief Minister, who once reminded us that every file is a human life, recently informed the Legislative Assembly that 2,99,425 files are pending in the Secretariat alone waiting for the mercy of officials.

It should be noted that about three lakh files are pending in the Secretariat alone. Apart from this, how many lakhs of files are waiting for action in the district offices of various departments, regional offices and offices of other government institutions? As of 2022, more than 130,000 files were pending at that time. Only 82,401 files were settled among them. Currently, more than half of the pending three lakh files are related to the Local Self-Government Department- 1.68 lakh files. Strangely, this situation is in the same department where the government has started experiments such as coordination of departments, e-filing and e-certificates to untangle red tape! There are 35,000 pending files related to the Public Education Department. Meanwhile, the number of pending files related to the Home Department and Revenue Department are 20,000 and 18,000 respectively.

It is said that the primary cause of the tardy file disposal in the Secretariat is the excessive number of levels at which decisions must be made. It will take years to get through the decisions of the fifth and sixth levels. To untie this loophole, the government issued an order that there should be only two levels between the section officer, who receives the files first, and the departmental secretary, who is at the top of it. This was implemented in principle. Yet, nearly three lakh files are pending in the Secretariat. The government should urgently investigate the reason behind this. An average of 20,000 new files are created in the Secretariat every month.

Unless the government implements a comprehensive and scientific plan to speed up file disposal, the piling up of pending files is bound to continue indefinitely. The authorities should check the actual number of files handled by each department per day and the number of files in which the final decision is taken each day at the Secretariat. After that they should find the cause of delay and take action to speed up the process. They should also examine why there are up to 5 levels in the Finance Department and other departments despite reducing the number of decision-making levels to two. There should be a mechanism to monitor and correct officers who unnecessarily withhold files without making a decision. In any case, there should be no delay in introducing a green tape operation aimed at speeding up the movement of files in the Secretariat.

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