Two years since the state government decided to go for compulsory biometric attendance systems in schools,offices,Ashram schools and hostels under the Social Welfare and Women and Child Department,the project seems to be in doldrums.
A recent report of the Auditor General (AG) of Maharashtra states that although more than Rs 7 crore have been spent on the project,only 5.98 per cent of the targetted people were covered.
The basic aim of the project,which was launched in March 2011,was to improve attendance system in the institutions and weed out bogus beneficiaries. As per the project,the fingerprinting data was to be maintained in a central server in Mantralaya,which was to be distributed to all regional and district level offices. This database was to be used as a checklist for verifying the claims of various institutions about student strengths and getting grants.
However,the AGs report paints a very different picture. Of the 4,376 schools,Ashram schools and hostels under the Social Welfare Department,only 250 schools and hostels attended the training workshop and data transfer. Other schools and hostels did not turn up and also did not provide the data in the required format. Of the 4,178 machines,though delivered and installed as stated by the department,the knowledge of data transfer was disseminated to only 5.98 per cent, the report observed.
The installation report was supposed to be provided by the company,which the audit observed was not done even after two years of the announcement of the project. Moreover,the contract had stated that the contractor would attract a five per cent penalty for late installation,but the department had failed to submit proof of any action taken. The audit observed that although over Rs 7 crore were spent on the project,no installation reports were available for verification.
Social activist Manav Kamble said the biometric system would have ushered in a lot of transparency but lackadaisical attitude of the social welfare department had almost nipped it in the bud. The commissionerate of social welfare should be strengthened to ensure these projects are implemented properly, he said.