In Hyderabad, people still need middlemen to access government services despite claims of digitalisation making it easier. The middlemen operate outside service centres such as e-Seva, Mee Seva, and Mandal offices. People who want to apply for birth, death, caste, income certificates, Shaadi Mubarak, or change their name in Aadhaar card face difficulties. It is hard to get a slot at these centres, and middlemen demand huge amounts of money to get work done quickly. For example, the rate for changing a name in an Aadhaar card is around Rs 6000 in Nallakunta area, while in other places, it can be Rs 3000 for getting a birth or death certificate without any delay.
Applicants allege that officials keep applications pending for up to three months by claiming that the application was not in order. But if people approach middlemen or agents, then the work is completed in the shortest possible time. People say that getting caste, income, and other certificates online from the Municipal Corporation is also not easy, forcing service seekers to pay extra money to middlemen.
The middlemen charge around Rs 6,000 for a name change in the Aadhaar card and complete the work in a week. They claim that they have to bribe officials to complete the work. The government should break this nexus between middlemen and service providers, says Sathi Reddy, an applicant who approached an agent for an income certificate. Many people have said that when they applied for Shaadi Mubarak or other services, their applications were rejected without reason. But if they applied with the help of middlemen, they were cleared quickly.
Nadia Lubna, a degree student, has been applying for an income certificate at Bahadurpura Mandal office. The senior officer did not explain the reason for the delay. But those who applied through middlemen were getting certificates on time, she alleged.