Petition writing, now for free, at Madurai Collectorate

Petition writing, now for free, at Madurai Collectorate

A group of volunteers from Nehru Yuva Kendra are writing the petitions, in a move by the Collector to ensure petitioners do not have to pay exorbitant amountsto writers

Grievance redressal meetings at Madurai’s ancient District Collectorate are usually teeming with petitioners waiting in line to meet officials, in order to ensure their predicaments are addressed.

Petitioners travel from far and wide across the district, usually in buses. They also end up spending between ₹30 and ₹100 to ask a ‘petition writer’ to ensure that their letters are written in the right format. The cost varies, depending on one’s haggling techniques and the size of the petition.

This Monday however, an unusual sight greeted citizens. A group of 20 volunteers from Nehru Yuva Kendra (NYK) sat behind an elongated table and began writing petitions for free.

District Collector T. G. Vinay said that they had introduced this mechanism of working with volunteers, so that people from low socio-economic background would have access to a fair and just redressal system, even if they are uneducated. “Many people travel long distances to submit their petitions but end up seeking the help of these writers who sometimes charge exorbitantly. To curtail this, we reached out to a voluntary organisation which redirected us to this group of 20 people from NYK,” he said.

The Collector said the volunteers have been taught to just write the basic gist of each petition. “Most times, petitions end up being really long. We have told volunteers to write the gist and provide certain sub-headings so that it becomes easy for filing,” he said. When the petitions are redirected to the concerned officers, they would file detailed reports, he said.

M. Meenakshi, a volunteer at NYK said that the volunteers would be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday. Apart from volunteering to write petitions, citizens can also approach them for other basic help. “We are also interested in cleaning the campus. Persons with disabilities can reach out to us for other help as well,” she said.

Ms. Meenakshi said that volunteers would come in rotational batches of 20 for the process of petition writing. “This process feels fulfilling. We understand the depths of democracy better now. Petition writers, until today, had exploited the uneducated by quoting a random price. This can now be curtailed,” she said.

Another volunteer P. S. Vaishnavi said that it would be useful for volunteers to get some more training on petition writing. The Collector said that he would arrange a two-day workshop on this in the coming month for them.

S. Rajapushpam, a petitioner who has been coming to the Collectorate for three years, seeking a government job for herself, congratulated the team and said that this was a novel idea. “I come from Kallikudi and spend ₹75 as bus fare. Until today, I have had to pay ₹40 for my petition. Now, I can choose to save on it. The volunteers were kind,” she said.

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