BENGALURU: LOCAL politicians and their cronies were named by the staff of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) as the major groups interfering with the discharge of their duties towards the public.
This finding emerged in a study conducted by a not-for-profit organisation hired by BWSSB to assess its water and sanitation services.
The report by Public Affairs Centre, made public a couple of days ago by the BWSSB, only through word of mouth, is a result of a seven-month detailed assessment carried out among 2,617 respondents comprising department staff and consumers.
The `24.8 lakh project, entrusted to the PAC, was aimed at improving the service provided to the public after a survey of its water and sanitary services. The survey commenced on January 13 this year.
Around 600 staffers of BWSSB at all levels, right from meter reader to executive engineers as well as staff at its treatment plants were interviewed, apart from randomly selected consumers.
The question on ‘People of influence interfering in discharge of duty’ revealed that the maximum interference was by people close to politicians (51.4%). Nearly half of those surveyed (49.8%) said local politicians interfered with their work while 48.6% interference was caused by influential leaders from the locality.
“The interference was always, or sometimes, a real hindrance to their work,” the respondents are reported to have said.
Shortage of personnel was a major problem across departments, the staff said adding that harassment by senior officers was also an issue.
The report has made seven high-priority recommendations to improve the services rendered by the Board: Periodic performance appraisals to promote efficient staff and internal exams for staff members to assess their fitness when they apply for another position in the BWSSB.
The Board also needs to ensure adequate staff strength in each department, it recommended.
The PAC has also called for setting up a separate leak group available on a 24x7 basis to rectify pipeline leakages and sewer overflows. Another recommendation was the need to have a well-trained plumbing team at each service station.
The report was submitted by the PAC over a month ago to BWSSB but its release has been delayed for quite some time. “Top officials of the Board wanted to recheck and fine tune the report,” said a source.
“BWSSB had already printed an English version of the report and the Kannada version took some time,” he added.
The Board was keen that former Bengaluru Development Minister K J George release the report and was waiting for him to specify a date. However, before the release of the report, George was forced to leave the ministry.