Lucknow, April 29 (IANS) How to create a media-friendly environment in government offices and make maximum information available to journalists? This is a key task for the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh, which is working out measures to facilitate media persons, who had "not so good" a time during the previous Mayawati rule.
Soon after his taking over as the chief minister of India's most populous state, the 38-year-old Akhilesh Yadav had hinted that the government was keen on improving relations with the media.
Highly placed sources said the chief minister has directed authorities to be "media friendly and promptly available". They said the information and public relations department has also been asked to make a road map "at the earliest" on how to make more and more information available to the local and national media.
Confirming the development, Information Department director Prabhat Mittal told IANS the orders were "clear cut", and the department was working on them.
Several pending issues of the local journalists, including passes for entry into the secretariat which had been made "very tough" during the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) rule, have been expedited.
The government is trying to simplify procedures, which include the Local Intelligence Unit (LIU) verifications, for the media persons before they are allowed into the annexe and secretariat. Accreditation rules are also being worked upon afresh, an official said.
The information department has also ordered a special "one-click away" software that would enable media persons from any part of the country to download media communiques and press notes.
"We are trying to work on a software which would make information available to journalists promptly and easily," Mittal said.
The chief secretary's office has also pitched in and is trying to be "accessible to the national and international media" and is trying to ensure that "very soon the state government's policy decisions, cabinet meeting briefings etc are also available in English", a senior official said.
The government is also planning to give "special attention" to the online media and the chief minister has asked officials to make a "long term policy for web journalists" as well, the official added.
State Chief Secretary Jawwed Usmani, with his stints at the World Bank and several high-profile places, is "doing his bit to provide crucial inputs for public interface," a source said.
Director General of Police A.C. Sharma has also been asked to "put in a word" to his subordinates to be media-friendly.
The DGP's office is currently drafting a letter for all district police chiefs, deputy inspector generals of police (DIG) and inspector generals of police (IGPs) to "ensure that media persons get news at the right time, in the right perspective", the source said.
The public relations wing of the Uttar Pradesh Police is also getting attention. The budget for "entertainment" of scribes - tea, refreshments, snacks etc has been increased.
"There is no dearth of facilities, we have been asked to not only be courteous and friendly to journalist fraternity but also be welcoming" said Rakesh Singh, PRO at the DGP office.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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