Mumbai: Biometric attendance at Nair hospital is a big fail

This was the chaos on Day 1 at Nair Hospital: 95,000 people registered on the system while total staff strength is only 72,000; worse, just 14,000 were actually able to mark attendance on Monday

Although staffers turned up on time at Nair hospital, they started work late because of the long queue to sign in through AE-BAS
Although staffers turned up on time at Nair hospital, they started work late because of the long queue to sign in through AE-BAS

Day one, and medical staffers are already sick of the new Aadhaar Enabled Biometric Attendance System (AE-BAS) and the chaos it has brought into their routine. Hundreds of employees had trouble starting work on time on Monday - even though they reported on time, teething problems caused a delay of two hours in the average log-in time.

After all the fuss created by AE-BAS, less than 20% of staffers were able to sign in through it. mid-day visited Topiwala Medical College and BYL Nair hospital at Mumbai Central to find utter chaos at the facility. A staffer said on condition of anonymity, "My duty time is 8.30 am and I arrived five minutes before time, but was shocked to find a huge line at the medical college building, where we were asked to register our attendance on the biometric machine. It took up to 5 minutes for each staffer due to a glitch in the system. By the time my turn came, I was late by 30 minutes. We are allowed only 15 minutes of buffer time, which is unfair. This will only get more challenging during the monsoon."


Illustration/Ravi Jadhav

Bad prognosis
A senior doctor added, "We witnessed complete confusion and panic. People were worried about getting a late mark for no fault of theirs. If we get more than three late marks in the muster, one day's leave is deducted. Even a single late mark means our pay will be docked for half day. The civic body had started a similar system few years ago, wherein we had to swipe our card, but that did not last long. The success of this new method will be known only in next few months."

Numbers don't lie
mid-day accessed data from the first day of the biometric system and found the figures to be dismal. Although 95,345 employees were registered on the system, only 72,364 were found to be active employees. From this, only 14,321 staffers could mark their attendance on the biometric system. Out of the 456 devices installed, only 399 were working.

A BMC official responded to these numbers: "First, we need to filter out anyone who is not an active employee. Secondly out of 72,364 active employees, if only 14,321 were able to register their attendance, we will have to check if there were any technical glitches. As there is a short supply of biometric machines, we are hoping that additional machines are supplied at the earliest."

The central government had issued a circular in December 2016 asking all government and civic employees to register and start using AE-BAS as per the formulation laid down by National Informatics Centre (NIC), explained Anilraj Kaveskar.

"We are in the trial stage and want to address all the issues before the month-end. The biometric machines are easy to operate and cost only Rs 2,800 each. We are sure that more devices will be installed at each and every civic-run office, educational institution, hospital, etc." Six HR professionals and 12 field staffers have been deployed by the BMC to help smooth the process.

Deans Speak

Dr Suleman Merchant, 
Dean of LTMG Medical College and Hospital 
'This will bring in a sense of responsibility and also accountability. We have to give some time for the staff to get used to the new system. Already the software upgrade work is in process and we will get more devices gradually.'

Dr Avinash Supe,
Dean of KEM medical college and hospital
'We have noted the initial hiccups, and have already discussed this with human resources representatives from BMC, and they have given us solutions. We plan to install machines in every department, with one machine to 40 staffers.'

Dr Ramesh Bharmal, 
Dean of Topiwala National Medical College and BYL Nair hospital, 
'I am aware of the inconvenience that the staff had today, this is basically because we have so far got only two machines. We have learnt that supply of additional machines will take a few weeks. I will request to increase the buffer time to at least half an hour, instead of 15 minutes, especially during monsoon.'

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