Miss and take the hit. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is going to try this new formula on civic officials to help rein in the disappearance of files from the very cabinets of its various divisions. To check the unexplained vanishing act, the BMC has decided to hold its 700-odd information officers (IOs) responsible for any missing documents.
The administration circulated a warning last week to all its civic wards and departments, stating that files going missing would be the responsibility of 703 civic officials, who act as IOs in their respective sections. They would have to go to jail or pay a substantial fine or face both, if papers go missing on their watch.
About 800 files from the BMC’s 64 departments, including 24 ward offices, have been ‘lost’ in the last one-year alone. Incidentally, most of the missing files are from the building proposal (BP) and the development plan (DP) departments, followed by conservancy, health (paramedical) and education departments.
The BP and DP departments are, obviously, the administration’s cream departments, considering the mountains of money riding on infrastructure projects in the city’s preposterously lucrative realty market. Even Right to Information activists have received responses like ‘Files could not be found’ to many of their queries to these divisions.
The BMC is apparently deadly serious about files going missing. According to the circular dated March 25, 2013, all departments are required to keep records of all documents. To facilitate documentation, around 18-20 IOs in each ward will be treated as record officers, who will maintain a register of all documents and hand it over to the central record section.
“The central record section will inspect all records and if it finds any document or file missing, the officer concerned will have to face action, which could be five years’ imprisonment or a penalty of Rs 10,000 or both,” said a senior BMC official on the condition of anonymity.
For the twin purposes of ease of access and security, the BMC has started digitisation of all its documents at Rabale in Navi Mumbai. Officials have estimated that at least 80 crore pages from all civic departments will need to be digitised.
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