March 2, 2021 5:40:28 am
Two days after The Indian Express reported that the UT civic body has been paying a hefty monthly rent of Rs 17.5 lakh for GPS watches that have been junked, the audit department asked officers about why the rent is being paid when the watches are no longer in use.
KK Yadav, Commissioner Municipal Corporation said that the UT is awaiting decision of the committee which was constituted to look into the issues in use of GPS watches pointed out by councillors.
According to officials, of the total 4000 watches, around 2,732 watches display the online message meaning they are still in use, while 1,223 watches display the offline message. However, councillors have refuted this claim, saying that hardly a few watches are in use, while the rest have been junked.
Devinder Singh Babla, Leader of opposition said that recovery should be made from officials who caused this loss to the ex chequer. “When they wasted crores in something that wasn’t used, recovery be made from erring officials,” he said.
The objective of the GPS-enabled wrist watches was to record attendance of field staff shift-wise, prevent and control misuse of manual attendance system, maintain transparency, accountability in operations and weed out fake, duplicate workers.
To monitor the field staff, the Chandigarh civic body took these watches at a monthly rent of Rs 17.5 lakh, adding up to Rs 2.10 crore per year.
The field staff had staged several protests, citing that the use of these watches made them ‘bonded labour.’The watches also reported many glitches and displayed wrong locations, which led to the MC to junk them. Salaries to the field civic staff have been released manually since, while the MC continues to pay rent.
Certain nominated councillors had also questioned the need for these watches, when the MC already employs 161 chief sanitary inspectors and sanitary inspectors, whose job entails monitoring the safai karamcharis.
Last year, under then Mayor Raj Bala Malik, a committee was constituted to look into the issues of field employees who opposed wearing the GPS watches. While the mayor was re-elected earlier this year, the issue has been languishing.
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