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Smartphones given to corporators yet to be activated

After handing out laptops and smartphones to its corporators, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation sure seems to have got savvy with technology. However, corporators are still to put these devices to any real work-related use, since they are yet to be configured on their respective networks.

The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos phones that the civic body bought at a price of Rs 10,500 each - incidentally Rs 1,000 more than the handset’s market price - have been lying idle for the past two weeks. The SIM cards were allotted a few days ago but they are yet to be activated. Moreover, to the dismay of a few, the BMC is tilting towards getting the corporators pre-paid connections so the budget set aside for paying the phone bills is not exceeded. The BMC has decided to allocate about Rs 1,250 per month to every corporator towards recharges.

This implies that representatives will have to check their phone balance and recharge on a regular basis. But at least, their connections won’t suffer if the administration puts off paying the bill. A municipal officer, requesting anonymity, said, “We will be paying Rs 1,250 per month to every corporator to cover their phone bills. We are also planning to make their SIM cards pre-paid. This is being done so there is no inconvenience to them if there is a delay in paying bills from our side. Their connection should not suffer.”

Overall, the civic authority will be spending about Rs 34.8 lakh annually to pay the phone tab. Municipal secretary Narayan Pathade said, “We will soon conduct a group leaders’ meeting where the decision on pre-paid connections will be taken. The amount of Rs 1,250 will be set aside for their individual phone bills. This will be done soon so they can use the smart phones and the SIMs allotted to them that have not yet started.”

The laptops more or less share a similar story. The 232 laptops the corporation bought for its members cost it more than Rs 2 crore. They were primarily obtained so corporators could keep a tab on various public works like road repairs and progress of other projects in their areas. But a dedicated server to handle such official data is yet to be set up. The hook-up is going to take another 6-7 months, sources said.  

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