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Naveen Defends Odisha CMO Officials’ Public Outreach

Amid Opposition’s attack over excessive bureaucratic interference in government matters, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday defended the statewide visit of Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) officials to collect the grievances of people.

Patnaik, in a statement in the Assembly, said that his government’s main priority is to listen and solve people’s grievances. There is a robust system in place to receive and address the grievances of people who used to come in large numbers to Bhubaneswar before Covid, he said.

“When Covid happened, the CM Grievance Cell was closed due to restrictions for almost two years. It was restarted after normalcy returned. However, post Covid, we noticed that the average number of grievances and people coming to the cell had come down,” Patnaik said.

The chief minister also stated that following the Covid-induced disruption in grievance redressal, he thought about reaching out to the people by taking the CM Grievance Cell to the doorsteps of citizens in every block and urban local bodies of the state in the shortest period possible.

“CM Grievance Cell is handled by the CMO and as per my directions officers from the CMO conduced decentralised grievances cell in all the districts of the state,” added Patnaik.

“This mammoth exercise was carried out in more than 190 locations over a period of six months. Everyday, three to five venues were covered and in the process 57,442 petitions were collected from the people, and as on date 43,536 petitions have been resolved or disposed off, said the CM.

He said that all this has been done in a transparent and professional way by the officials of CMO. His government’s aim is to resolve people’s grievances in the best possible manner. On the Opposition criticism over the issue of ministers versus officers, Patnaik said the CM Grievance Cell is always handled by the CMO officers. The officials used to send the petitions to respective departments after receiving the petitions at the cell.

“If all these 57,000 petitioners (most are community petitions) had to come to Bhubaneswar to attend CM Grievance Cell, how much money they would have had to spend in travel and stay, how much wage loss they would have had ? All this has been saved by the CM Grievance Cell by travelling to the door steps of people,” Patnaik said.

He said that it would have taken at least two to three years had the officers travelled to different parts of the state by road to perform such a humongous task of collecting 57,442 petitions.

“Everyday, conducting three to five meetings in different locations is humanly impossible within a window of 10 am to 3 pm which is convenient to people,” Patnaik said.

Meanwhile, the CM has rubbished the allegations of huge spending over the use of chopper by 5T Secretary VK Pandian during his visits to different parts of the state. “In the last three-and-a-half years, we have spent about Rs 40 crore on chopper. On an average Rs 1 to 1.5 crore is spent on chopper every month. In the past six months, when chopper was used intensively to reach out to the people, the average expenditure was the same around Rs 1 to 1.5 crore per month. It’s completely false and misleading to say that excess expenditure has been made,” Patnaik said.

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