HYDERABAD: The Telangana government’s Mee Seva centres, whose number has leapfrogged to 4,500, including 2,936 authorised centres, in 31 districts seem to have mushroomed for a reason: the moolah that can be raked in. Not just the franchise centres, Internet cafes and freelancers too have turned their businesses into one-stop shops, providing PAN card, Aadhaar card and passport services to name a few.
The outcome: customers have to shell out more than what is mentioned in the handbook of Mee Seva. Pitifully, Mee Seva authorities conduct inspections only when complaints of excessive charging and cheating are lodged against specific centres. A centre in Bharath Nagar Colony, which also has an internet cafe as an annexe, issues various identity cards and makes changes in Aadhaar card details by charging Rs 150. This service, however, is available only on Sundays.
While it is free to enrol for Aadhaar identity and updating of information — biometric or demographic — can be done at a nominal fee of Rs 25, many franchisees charge more than double the official cost that is mentioned in the handbook of Mee Seva.
When Express called the Mee Seva helpline number to know the facts, the executive said that complaints were registered only in the case of authorised Mee Seva centres being at fault. The government-run centres are also frequently inoperative due to server issues. Besides, their staff behave rudely with customers. “The employees at SR Nagar branch of Mee Seva are not courteous to visitors and often violate human rights,” reads an online complaint at complaintboard.in.
The franchisees are selected after a long process of tender processing and other procedures that include a written examination. The profits are shared in a 9:1 ratio — 10 per cent profit goes to the government and 90 per cent to the licensed franchisee. “No doubt some charge extra amount. Even I do. But those who do so should take care, follow up and see to it that the card sought is delivered to the client. Customer satisfaction is what runs our business,” said a franchises on condition of anonymity.
While it is consumer’s responsibility to know the exact charges as per the Mee Seva handbook, the service helpline does not offer assistance in case of excessive charging at an internet service centre or an unauthorised Mee Seva centre. Mee Seva officials, however, claim that inspections are held whenever complaints are received by the authorities concerned. “We conduct inspections only when specific complaints are received and do not do it on our own,” said an E District manager from Mee Seva.