Night camps connect officials with villagers in Bengal

Along with regular daytime monitoring meetings and field visits the administrative officials of Bardhaman District in West Bengal have started night camps to connect with the villagers.

Taking cue from the State’s Chief Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, who believes in meeting people across state at grass-root level, this innovative idea has been adopted by the district administrative officers too. From time to time, the district magistrate, along with other top administrative officials, spends a night at a randomly-picked village to study firsthand the impact of various government welfare measures on villagers.

The team, comprising officials like ADMs, SDOs and BDOs, discusses with the villagers, their grievances and needs.

The meeting usually starts at around 7:00 PM and continues till around 11:00 PM, depending upon the nature of the interaction. Meetings are held in the evening because by that time most villagers are back from work and are in a relaxed mood.  The officers and people’s representatives sit on the floor face to face with the villagers.

The problems dealt with are mostly relating to caste certificates, issue of ration cards, inclusion of names in the BPL list, social assistance programmes like old age, widow and disability pensions. Construction of roads, libraries and other facilities, scholarships, electric connection, ICDS or Mid day meal programmes, health services, land-related problems, agriculture issues, cattle and domestic animals related problems also feature among the topics.

Most of the problems are resolved on the spot to be followed by a special camp for the people of the gram panchayat for extension and facilitation of sundry services and government benefits.

The officials carry their own tiffins and dinner packets, so after the meeting is over, they stay back and sleep in community halls or schools made ready for their night halt.

Already more than 500 villages have been covered by the Bardhaman district administration.