An NRI, A Hyderabadi get a bus service in Badhrachalam

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The Village:
Can you imagine a village in India without a bus service in 2013?

Ofcourse you can. There are thousands of such villages that have a proper tar road connectivity but still dont have a state operated Bus service. One such village is Pedamidisileru in Khammam Dist of Andhra Pradesh. The village was connected to the nearest town of Bhadrachalam via tar road but did not have a bus connectivity. People from the village depended on auto­rickshaws for commuting to and fro.

What’s the issue?

One day, a young graduate from this village, named Sagar, posted on his Facebook profile wall about this issue seeking help in getting a bus connectivity to the village.

What followed next is unbelievable. Almost after 5­6 months of this status update on Facebook, the village finally got a bus service on 20th January 2014, thanks to the volunteers who approached the concerned officials in APSRTC, escalated the issue to appropriate authorities and followed up till the officials addressed the concerns.

Sounds like a typical fairy tale. Isn’t it?

Well, this story is almost 90% accurate except for the fact that there is no Facebook status update involved. Instead, it was a unique platform called “CgNetSwara” that gave a voice to the hundreds of voiceless Adivasis and tribals.

CGNet Swara is a voice­based portal, freely accessible via mobile phone, that allows anyon to report and listen to stories of local interest. Reported stories are moderated by journalists and become available for playback online as well as over the phone (+91 8050068000).

So, In February 2013, Sagar, reported this issue of “no bus service” to his village using the CgNet Swara platform. Subsequently Suresh Ediga, an NRI, residing in New Jersey followed up on the story. He called Sagar to confirm the details first and then called the Mr Venkateswara Babu, APSRTC Depot Manager in Badhrachalam. After multiple follow­ups with the officials, they asked for a written request to look into the issue. And hence, Sagar submitted a written request to the depot manager.

Given the time zone differences, the follow­ups happened very intermittently. The depot manager forgot about the request and villagers continued to use auto­rickshaws for commuting.

Back on track

Almost after 10 months, in December 2013, Suresh Ediga updated his Facebook Status seeking help from volunteers to follow­up on this issue.That’s when Ali Hussaini, an activist from Hyderabad got involved and took the case by storm. Given his experience in dealing with Civic Issues of Hyderabad

City, he suggested the proper escalation procedures that needs to be followed. Subsequently, Emails were sent to Depot Manager of RTC Bhadrachalam Depot, followed by Public Relations Officer (Mr Kiran) of RTC and then Regional Manager (Mr Ajay), RTC of Khammam region.

Once the mails were sent, the next stage of follow­ups involved making phone calls to the concerned officials and seeking details of action initiated on emails. After multiple follow­up calls and exchange of emails, finally, the Regional manager ordered the Depot Manager to conduct a survey of the area to check the viability.

Once the survey report was submitted, the regional Manager gave a green signal to start the bus Service to the village. It was decided by the Regional Manager that the bus service will be evaluated for at least a month to make sure it’s economically viable.

So, finally, on 20th January 2014, the village got its first bus.

This incident is a classic example of Citizen engagement with the system and subsequent action from the officials.

CgNetSwara has many such success stories where issues like mid­day meal programs, hospital services, schools etc were reported on CgNet, followed up by CgNetSwara team of volunteers and subsequently resolved. This is a remarkable achievement because the people who typically report on CgNet Swara are the poorest of the poor from the most remote villages of Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh etc.

If Suresh Ediga, an NRI and Ali Hussaini, a Hyderabadi Techie using the CgNet Swara platform can come together to help start a bus service in the remote village of Badhrachalam , both of whom had nothing to do with Sagar or the village, then imagine what will happen if thousands of people join the CgNet Swara platform and follow up on the various issues/problems reported, think of the amazing transformation that can happen.

CgNet Swara is truly a powerful weapon in participatory democracy which can truly enable citizens and make them problem solvers, not just problem reporters.

If you would like to volunteer to become a part of this silent revolution, please do
Like the facebook page and on Twitter.


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