KATHMANDU, July 14 : Continuous exposure to sound has led to various kinds of hearing and psychological problems among the officials of Hello Sarkar, a government hotline initiated by former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai with the objective of resolving public grievances.
Currently, there are altogether 15 officers working at the office. There are two shifts and each staff has to work for seven hours a day.
According to the officers, once they enter the office they rarely get to free themselves from the phone calls. They say that the continuous sound of telephones ringing and the aggressive voice of the public at times have not just affected them psychologically but have even increased their fear of hearing impairment.
Prolonged exposure to sound and noise has given rise to psychological stress, irritation and has also limited the ability of the officers to hear high frequency, they lament. Besides, that it has also affected their ability to communicate.
A year ago, Hari Bhakta Mahatara, an officer at Hello Sarkar, had to undergo a surgery for his ears after discovering that he couldn't hear properly. There are many staff like him who are likely to develop serious hearing problems in the future. But the launch of Twitter and Facebook accounts has relieved the officers a bit. “Thank god! We have social media these days due to which we don't have to stick to the phone always,” said Chief Officer of Hello Sarkar Pradhyumna Prasad Upadhyay.
According to him, it has been about a year that the office has expanded its branch in various places which has eased their task a bit by reducing their pressure.
Officials of Hello Sarkar lament that the office has been the best medium for the people to express their anger and frustration at the government. “Though the number of genuine complaints is very low, mostly we get calls from people who are trying to vent their frustration regarding various things and sometimes we even receive blank calls,” said Rupak Aryal, a duty officer. He further informed that there are also people who make complaints regarding matters which are irrelevant and baseless. They keep calling and shouting at the officers until their demands are addressed. “Though we love our job, it can be hectic for anyone to get shouted at for mistakes which are not theirs,” Aryal added. He further informed that it is not easy for the officers to get out of the trauma of the day even after reaching home.
It has been about 15 days since Narayan Lamichhane joined Hello Sarkar, but he has already developed some hearing problems. “After continuously picking up calls for days, I realized that the pitch of my voice has slightly increased. My voice has become loud due to which I can hardly hear low voices,” said Lamichhane.
Due to the rush of receiving calls on time, officers lament that they don't even get proper time to note down the complaints for which they are accused of not providing immediate response. “Though we are determined to provide quick service, sometimes it is not possible to do so especially when we are recording serious complaints one after another,” he said. Newly appointed staff Lamichhane shared that his ears keep buzzing even after reaching home.
Since its inception in 2011, the office has recorded about 63,843 grievances altogether out of which 56,467 complaints have been settled while 7376 are still to be resolved. The authority which was working as a bridge between people and government records around 60 to 70 genuine complaints in a day.