KOCHI: The Resident Association Anti-Corruption Movement (RAAM) is making the change they wish to see in their district. A ‘crime-fighting machine’ undertaking a sort of legal vigilantism, RAAM was launched a year ago in Ernakulam district to nip corruption at the grassroots level with the involvement of the district’s residents. The project, a first of its kind in the country and a joint venture by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) and Ernakulam District Resident’s Association Apex Council (EDRAAC), has received tremendous response from the public in Ernakulam, officials said.
M Surendran, VACB inspector and programme coordinator of RAAM said, currently, RAAM has around 300 units across the district. “A few months ago in Aluva, a contractor was carrying out road repair work without quality raw materials. Coming to know about the corruption, RAAM members intervened in the matter. They informed us about it and the work was stopped. Later, the contractor was forced to use quality raw material for the road construction. RAAM has helped residents raise their voice when they witness any corruption activities,” he said.
Apart from this, the VACB and EDRAAC hold seminars and workshops for members of RAAM and the public. “It is best to prevent the corruption than to report it after it has taken place. With the involvement of the public, we can prevent corruption to a greater extent,” said Surendran.
Last year, a ration dealer committing malpractice in providing ration to the public was caught by the VACB after information was passed on by RAAM members. “The RAAM is currently operational only in Ernakulam district. Most of the committees at the local level are very active. We are trying to add more committees in the rural areas of the district,” he said. RAAM operates in various committees formed at the district, zone and local level. Each committee has a president, secretary and five members.
And there’s more
Following the success of RAAM, the VACB last year introduced another project named Praja. The project is implemented among revenue officers working in Kanayannur taluk with the tehsildar heading the project. “Praja is formed to reduce corruption among the government staff. The concept is not to punish government officials, but to restrain them from corrupt practices. If a government official witnesses a corrupt practice by a subordinate, they will report this to the committee. The committee will review the matter and seek an explanation for the concerned officer,” Surendran said.