Shopian: In a far-off tehsil in Kulgam district, where public grievances are least taken notice of by the print or electronic media, a young Tehsildar has started a novel interactive programme where the officer receives public complaints and grievances on Facebook on one Thursday and comes up with redressal or solutions on the next Thursday.
Niyaz Ahmad Bhat, the Tehsildar who came to be posted at Damhal Hanjipora (DH-Pora) more than two years ago, has become not only popular but a household name in the area.
Bhat, besides conducting his live programme, also uploads videos on social media of people protesting over lack of civic services in the tehsil area.
As per videos uploaded by the officer, he receives calls from the people of his Tehsil on one Thursday in a live Facebook programme and notes them down. On the next Thursday he answers the grievances serial-wise, having either resolved the issues which come under his jurisdiction or having written to the higher authorities for their resolution.
Before Bhat’s transfer to DH-Pora, he was posted at Imamsahib Shopian as Tehsildar and he is widely considered as a workaholic and honest officer.
Bhat told Kashmir Reader that the prime motive to start a live programme to address grievances was that the area comprised of around 1.3 lakh population, mostly from economically weaker sections who have no access to government offices.
“I found that many people come on foot after walking 20 kilometers to reach my office. They don’t have cash for even bus fare and when they reach by 3 or 4pm, it is difficult for them to return home the same day. I found it a better way to note down their problems through a live phone-in programme,” Bhat said.
He said that there are 52 villages in DH-pora Tehsil out of which 50 are backward villages. “As the area is far-off, least attention is given by the media to the problems of the people. I at times upload videos on Facebook through a particular page to get the grievances attended by the officials concerned,” he said, adding that he has set up a committee in the Tehsil office which does site visits and works for the redressal of public issues.
Bhat said that since he has been posted in the area, he has set up a group of volunteers in each village as a part of disaster management efforts. “DH-Pora is prone to avalanches, flash floods and heavy snowfall. The volunteer groups work for rescue and relief in such situations. I have organised some programmes for their training and now I am looking to get them registered for more training programmes,” he said.
According to locals, Bhat is the lone officer who attends public delegations even on Sundays. They say that Bhat’s home is in Pulwama district which he visits once in 15 days. He resides at his government accommodation which is near the DH-Pora Tehsil office.
“As all the works are not in my hand, I try to act as a bridge between common people and officials of other departments. I raise the public issues with them and get the issues resolved. In the phone-in live programme, I receive over 50 calls from the public on every Thursday, and the team set up in the Tehsil works throughout the week to solve those issues,” he said, adding that this programme has also helped him to ensure that government schemes reach the people they are meant for.
“I receive calls from everyone, and irrespective of their status I get their problems resolved on priority,” he said. “During these two years I have visited every village and street to meet people and hear them.”
He said that it may be difficult to believe that even when someone calls to complain of being charged a single penny more than the government-fixed rate, he visits the spot that very moment to check on the complaint.