CHENNAI: Residents of rural areas abutting the city are not as fortunate as their urban counterparts when it comes to getting documents such as birth and death certificates on time. It is a rather cumbersome process for them to get the certificates and copies, which at times even takes a couple of months.
K. Jayabalan, a resident of Thoraipakkam, said that on most days the Village Administrative Officer would have gone out on official visits for verifications. “Only when he is available in the office, should we submit our applications and receive the temporary certificates. Last month the VAOs were busy with the distribution of flood relief and free saris and dhotis,” he added.
Residents of Surapet panchayat in the western fringes of Chennai said that while those within the Chennai Corporation limits could get their certificates even online, those in the suburbs, coming under Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur district limits, had to travel long distances to the tahsildar offices concerned for the same.
Officials of Puzhal panchayat union attributed the delay in the issue of certificates to the lack of manpower. There was a delay in providing the certificates for the past three months as the staff available were involved in distributing flood relief and free saris and dhotis.
The situation is no different in tahsildar offices as they too are said to be understaffed and the existing personnel overburdened with work. For people living in the rural areas, they have to approach the tahsildars too after getting the necessary approvals from the VAOs.
S. Radhamani of Karapakkam said it took her a week to get the death certificate of a relative from the tahsildar’s office. She had to wait for another week to apply for the copies. “They said I could get only three copies at a time, of which one would be retained by the government for its records. I had to come again to get the legal heir certificate. Some of the employees were not helpful and I was left clueless about whom to approach, where to go,” she added.
Even a short messaging (SMS) service for applying for the certificates, launched in Tiruvallur district November last year, has met with lukewarm response. Officials at the Tiruvallur Collectorate said that only 300 messages requesting various certificates, particularly copies of land documents and birth and death certificates, have been received. Tiruvallur District Informatics Officer P. Palanirajan said the service, which is now available only for BSNL mobile phone customers, would be extended to users of other mobile phone services depending on the patronage. The Collectorate is planning to launch a campaign in all local bodies, by installing boards, to create awareness about the service.
Kancheepuram Collector Santhosh K Misra said that he would look into the issue of cumbersome process for issuance of death and birth certificates and copies. “We are conducting workshops to sensitise staff to effective public relations, stress management and workload reduction. We have identified areas that need to be addressed.”