In the coming couple of years, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is likely to create free space roughly the size of a football field out of paper-thick air. The richest civic authority in the country has set the mouse rolling to digitise all the paperwork - an official estimate puts that at some 80 crore documents - that goes into sustaining its trundling municipal bureaucracy. The move will free up well over 50,000 square feet of space in its many pockets in the city.
Currently, this space is occupied by civic records and old documents filed away in cupboards in BMC’s turf across the city - its HQ, ward offices, hospitals, schools and markets. The entire process would take about two-three years. The BMC, with its annual budget of Rs 27,500 crore, has a total of 64 departments, most related to public subjects like water, roads, health, garden, property tax, storm water drains, solid waste management, development plan, building proposal and so on.
Most of the documents are from the municipal secretary, estate, development plan and building proposal departments, which have been storing the oldest of records. The municipal secretary department alone has about 1,200 volumes containing 1,000 pages each, including minutes of meetings, resolutions passed during the British era and reference books related to the BMC Act, 1888.
The BMC has appointed two firms M/s Data Matix Global Services and Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL) for the digitisation. “There are about 80 crore documents estimated for digitisation, which would help make free space of thousands of square feet which is currently occupied by these files and documents,” said Vasant Prabhu, deputy municipal commissioner, BMC’s information technology department.
Currently, the documents lying in each ward office occupy at least 1,000 sq ft, head office has occupied not less than 5,000 sq ft space while other establishments must have occupied remaining space, which will be free once all files will go for digitisation and stored at Mahape.
“Documents from the disaster management department have already been digitised and over 100 sq feet has been emptied in the office,” said Prabhu. He added that the digitisation would solve the problems of files going ‘missing’, illegitimate changes being made in them and destruction of documents.
“We will clean and fumigate the documents. Then scan them, place a bar code and pick them up from the department concerned. After that, they will be uploaded, and finally indexed in a manner that one would be able to retrieve a document within three minutes by a quick online search,” said Sanjeev Vivrekar, managing director and CEO of the SHCIL.
The firm has taken all the necessary precautions to secure the documents once they are uploaded and indexed. “There are about 4-5 layers of security like firewall, coding system while accessing documents etc. Also, the building is fire- and missile-proof,” said L Viswanathan, executive vice- president of SHCIL. The SHCIL will charge 36 paise per page to scan. The storage charges for one carton of 3,000-3,500 documents will be Rs 32 per month until all the work is completed.