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Public Grievance System

ICZMP Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism

The ICZM Project – West Bengal has established three tiers of Grievance Redressal Mechanism. The project will abide by the RTI Act of 2005 and under provisions of Section 4 of the Act, it will commit itself for proactive disclosure and sharing of information with the key stakeholders, including the communities/ beneficiaries. The ICZM Project – West Bengal has a well thought out communication strategy focusing on efficient and effective usage of print and electronic media, bill boards, posters, wall writing, and adoption of any other method suiting local context, logistics, human and financial resources. The Documentation Officer at the SPMU will register user complaints using various mediums (e.g. a dedicated, toll free phone line, web based complaints, written complaints and open public days). The website of SPMU will have a page for registering grievances. The SPMU and its PEAs will take note of the grievance and will also upload the decision taken on each of the grievances registered on the website.

First-tier Grievance Redress: The community organizers at the village / project site, for each activity implemented at village level, will be the first level contact for any aggrieved person. On a fixed date of every month, individuals / community can approach the community organizer to register their grievance. That apart, the project sties has already have information board with the (i) name of the PEA; (ii) name of the nodal grievance redressal officer of SPMU and its respective PEAs; and (iii) a toll free number to register grievances. The community organizer will prepare a monthly report on these cases, and submit to the respective PEA. Wherever the nature of the project activity does not include a community organizer, the Nodal Officer of the PEA will assume the same responsibility.

Second-tier Grievance Redress: At the SPMU level, the grievance redress mechanism will comprise of the (i) grievance registration system as described above, (ii) a dedicated staff of the Communication and Capacity Building Cell of SPMU in this case the Documentation Officer to prepare monthly reports on grievances and refer those grievances which remains unresolved at tier I to the SPMU Grievance Committee, and (iii) a Grievance Committee of the SPMU will include the Project Director and the Additional Project Director(Technical). This committee will take up the matter for resolution, prepare a quarterly report on grievances received and resolved, and provide specific detailed description of the cases where the issues were escalated, etc.

Third-tier Grievance Redress: In case grievance is not addressed at the first and second tier as well, the aggrieved person can approach the State Coastal Zone Management Authority. The State Coastal Zone Management Authority has, apart from representation from the Government agencies, members who are either experts independent of the Government or representatives of NGOs working on coastal zone management issues. The State Project Director, through the Department of Environment of the State will place the case in the agenda of the SCZMA meeting. The Documentation Officer will be responsible to prepare all background documentation for the SCZMA to consider the case with all required information. The SPMU will be responsible to inform the aggrieved person the process of contacting the SCZMA and the date and time of meeting of the SCZMA at least 3 days in advance of the meeting.

Assistance for aggrieved persons belonging to vulnerable groups for accessing legal recourse: If an aggrieved person is not satisfied with the results of grievance redress by the SCZMA, such a person can approach the Courts, under the laws of the Country, and the verdicts of the Courts will be final, as per the judicial processes established in India. In general, the legal system is accessible to all such aggrieved persons. However, there might be cases where vulnerable sections of the citizens of India face hurdles in accessing the legal recourse system.

These hurdles usually include the cost of litigation, knowledge about the legal system, or the lack of awareness about formal legal procedures. To help citizens to access the legal recourse system, the state of West Bengal has an operational mechanism called the State Legal Services Authority, which provides free services including services of lawyers without any cost to the litigants. SPMU in this project has already established a partnership with State Legal Services Authority to provide such services to the aggrieved persons claiming impact from the project. As part of the partnership, the project will reimburse all additional costs that accrue to the State Legal Services Authority. This facilitation will be available to the aggrieved person(s) if they fulfill the following two conditions: (1) that such aggrieved person(s) belong to any of the following vulnerable sections of the society - “below poverty line” families, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes; or is disabled, handicapped, orphaned or destitute person; and (2) such a person or persons have at least accessed both the second and third tier grievance redress mechanism offered by the project.