Downpour keeps 1913 ringing non-stop

The time was 3 pm and the six first shift call attenders at the corporation’s complaint cell were working 60 minutes over time
Chennai: It was raining phone calls at the 1913 section of the Chennai corporation. The time was 3 pm and the six first shift call attenders at the corporation’s complaint cell were working 60 minutes over time. “We have not had a single minute’s rest since we started our shift. The calls have been pouring in,” said Divya, one of the attenders.
V. Hemavathy, the supervisor, was coordinating the complaints registered. She said, on any given day, the complaint cell received a little over 500 complaints.
“Today we have received over 1000 complaints in only one shift,” she said.
While the attenders take note of the complaint from the caller, Hemavathy’s task is to take the ‘priority’ complaints to the immediate notice of the officials. “Uprooted trees are the priority cases as they affect traffic and could also cause injuries,” she said.
Complaints which fall under the jurisdiction of metro water, BSNL and electricity board are duly redirected to the service agency concerned by the attenders. Not all callers are polite and some invoke political clout to get their complaint pushed up the priority list. “Sir, there is this person calling about water stagnation. He says he is a close friend of someone at the secretariat,” Hemavathy informs the section manager.
Subsequently, she calls up the zonal officer concerned and the junior engineer in the ward and informs them to promptly attend to the problem. Ameen Basha, one of the attenders, spoke of the level of patience required of them.
“Sometimes, the callers can be abusive as well and there are other occasions where pranksters create trouble for us. But we have to politely reply to anyone who dials 1913,” said Basha. The 23-year-old Basha is just one of the 16 member team of call attenders, hired on a contractual basis by an independent personnel provider. Some like Basha work part time but all of them are at least graduates and earn between Rs 7,000 and Rs 12,000 for their work. When the rest of city is hoping that rain stays away on Tuesday, so that Deepavali can be celebrated with near and dear ones, these call attenders cannot avail the privilege of family time.
“We will not mind if it rains a bit lesstomorrow,” Basha smiles, before picking up the phone to say, “Vanakkam, Chennai Maanagaratchi (Corporation).”

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( Source : deccan chronicle )
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