Files are piling up at the Bhavani Peth ward office -- that receives 50 to 60 applications for these certificates daily -- as employees acknowledge that the defective machine has become a perennial problem for them
Pune: Life and death are in God’s hands, but making them official is the prerogative of the municipal corporation representatives. And while PMC has developed a special online system to deliver birth and death certificates to citizens through all its 15 ward offices, minor technical snags often bring back the olden days of queues and recurring rounds of these offices. For instance, at least 200 claims of birth and death certificates are pending in Bhavani Peth ward office since last week, all thanks to a broken down printer.
The matter came to the fore after local political activist Naresh Jadhav approached the ward office yesterday morning to seek a death certificate for his brother. But unlike the common public, rather than returning empty-handed, he rang up the ward officer and then the weeklong ‘problem’ got sorted within an hour.
Bhavani Peth ward office covers major Peths in the city including Bhavani, Ganesh, Somvar and Nana Peth. Every day the birth and death certificate counter receives at least 50 to 60 applications.
“The printer is not working since last week. That’s why we are not able to deliver certificates,” a female employee at the counter told MiD DAY.
Essentially, the role of the ward offices is just limited to issuing printouts of the certificates to citizens by charging Rs 20 for the first copy and Rs 10 for every subsequent one.
“This problem is not new to us. At least a couple of times every month the toner of the printer develops some defect. But, on each occasion, after we lodge a request, the contractor takes no less than four days to sort out the issue,” said Anant Gaikwad, a senior clerk at the ward office.
PMC has appointed a private firm, Krish Infotech, to look afterthe online support of this system in all ward offices in the city.
“Ideally, it is expected that this firm would make sure that all the systems are operating appropriately. But, due to its careless approach, we, the permanent employees, have to bear the brunt of the anger of citizens for not getting their certificates on time,” Gaikwad said.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) activist Naresh Jadhav said, “I was shocked on learning how, because of a trivial problem the ward office has stopped issuing these important certificates. Earlier, I was asked to come next Tuesday to collect the death certificate of my brother. But after I called up the ward officer, not only was the problem solved within an hour, I also received my certificate immediately.”
Unexpected delays in delivering certificates don’t occur only because of technical snags, but also due to lack of proper maintenance of records at the birth and death head office in Kasaba Peth.
In one such case, it took four long months for Dhayri residentPravin Kulkarni to finally get a death certificate for his wife’s grandfather.
“He passed away in the first week of September at his residence in Karve Nagar. After I asked for the death pass from PMC Sutar Clinic in Kothrud area, they told me to approach theKasba Peth office to seek a death certificate after a month. However, when I went there in October, the employees in Kasba peth office told me that they had not received the documents from Sutar Clinic,” Kulkarni said.
In this case, either the PMC clinic staff or Kasba Peth office employees have misplaced the documents. But it was Kulkarni who was made to run from pillar to post to find them.
“Finally, in the last week of December, by manually pasting my application in the register, they made an entry of death, and then after a fortnight I got death certificate from Warje Karve Nagar ward office. This experience was very frustrating, and this shows how after adopting technology the red-tape approach of PMC staff still exists,” Kulkarni added.
PMC blames contractor
When contacted, Bhavani Peth ward officer Yunus Pathan said, “We have just made space available for citizen facility centre (CFC) in our ward office, and it is the responsibility of the contractor to ensure all systems are functioning properly. Since last week, I have not received a single complaint from citizens about not getting certificates.” PMC health department chief ST Pardeshi, under whose jurisdiction birth and death office comes, also maintained that it’s the responsibility of the contractor and technical department of PMC to manage distribution of certificates through CFC. When asked about human error, like misplacing vital documents of birth and death records, he said, “I will look in the matter. But till now I have not received any such complaints.”