BMC bans online access for its employees after Rs 10 crore bill in the past 12 months

Updated: Jul 15, 2019, 08:29 IST | Arita Sarkar

After internet bill balloons to Rs 10 crore in the past 12 months, the civic body moves to restrict online access to its employees

BMC bans online access for its employees after Rs 10 crore bill in the past 12 months
The BMC received an internet bill of Rs 10 crore for 2018, a 70 per cent hike in its internet bills. Representation pic/Getty Images

At a time when the Internet almost makes the world go round, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to ban its access to all its employees. The move came last year and was implemented in phases after the civic body generated an annual bill of Rs 10 crore towards internet charges in 2018, senior civic officials said. "Usually the annual internet bill amounts to around Rs 3-4 crore. But in 2018, we were shocked to see that the bill was Rs 10 crore," said a senior civic official. Barring the official email, employees can no longer access other websites and their personal emails.

The civic official added that they realised most employees were using the BMC's internet connection for their personal use. "Staff members were on heavy usage websites like YouTube and were even downloading movies and songs all day long. We thus decided to ban all the websites barring the official email which is part of the SAP system," said
the official.

In order to further cut down expenses, the Information Technology department has been trying to reduce the amount of storage space that costs the BMC Rs 30 crore for a period of five years. In March last year, the civic body spent Rs 67 crore for the upgraded System Application Protocol (SAP) which is the software for data, payment of salaries, issuing of tenders and services such as issuing of licences. The version of the software called SAP Hanna, among other features, has an archival tool which can be used to store digitised tender documents that are no longer needed on the cloud.

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"Employees put tender documents on the cloud and don't remove them leading to increased consumption of storage space. Once this system is active, we can clear around 55-60 per cent of storage space and save money," said another senior civic official.

The BMC, in June last year, shelled out another Rs 150 crore (for a period of three years starting from the date of implementation) for implementation and maintenance of the software. But the project came to a standstill after allegations regarding fake certificates surfaced in some standing committee meetings last year. Senior civic officials also said that there were other allegations that sensitive details about tenders were being leaked to give certain contractors an edge over others. A forensic audit was ordered in March this year and the report was expected by May.

While sources confirmed that the report was submitted to civic chief Praveen Pardeshi earlier this month, there has been no progress in the implementation of the software. Civic officials said that the findings of the audit report will determine whether the contractor for implementing SAP Hanna will retain the project or a new tender will be floated.

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New software leak-proof
Apart from saving on storage space, the new software is more user-friendly and claims to prevent leakage of information. SAP Hanna's design is based on government regulations and can address other security concerns. Despite several calls and messages, Pardeshi could not be reached for comment.

Rs 30 crore
Amount BMC shelled out for storage space for a period of five years

Rs 67 crore
Amount BMC spent in March 2018 for System Application Protocol (SAP) software

Rs 150 crore
Amount BMC spent for implementation and maintenance of SAP for three years

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