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GPS watches rented for Rs 2.2-cr a year show employee’s location in Kedarnath

Mired in controversy, 4,000 GPS watches were hired on a monthly rent of Rs 18.68 lakh for the field staff. They have often been in the news for the wrong reasons.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh | October 31, 2020 10:16:19 am
Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, GPS Watches, Safai Karmacharis protestCivic body employees had recently protested against the watches. Express Photo

In an embarrassment for the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, one of the GPS watches it hired at Rs 2.2 crore a year to track its field staff, showed the on-duty location of one employee as Kedarnath in Uttarakhand when he was actually in Sector 33, Chandigarh.

Mired in controversy, 4,000 GPS watches were hired on a monthly rent of Rs 18.68 lakh for the field staff. They have often been in the news for the wrong reasons.

Sachin Lothiya, nominated councillor, said he has submitted 500 complaints pertaining to the GPS watches.

“When the sanitary inspector checked on the system he found the location of this employee to be Sector 33 at Kedarnath. Not just this, in another case, while an was employee at Sector 46, his location was showed as Manimajra,” Lothiya said.

He added, “These GPS watches also emit harmful rays and are not good.”

‘They paid Rs 51 lakh already but attendance still being checked manually’

BJP councillor Arun Sood said that though over Rs 51 lakh has already been paid as rent to the company and the next Rs 18 lakh will also be paid, but attendance is being checked manually.

“For three months when they have paid the (rent) amount and even then attendance is being calculated manually for whatever reasons. This is a waste of public money,” he added.

Sood further said, “The commissioner himself said that 339 complaints have been received…even though there are 500 of them, yet they haven’t thought of the fact that these watches are not working properly. Moreover they have this condition that if the watches get damaged, the employee concerned will pay. An employee sweeping in the rain if damages his watch mistakenly, do you think poor sweeper can afford to pay Rs 8000?”

Councillors also raised questions on the medical officer of health’s statement in the House that attendance had improved from 62 per cent to 92 per cent.

“If the attendance improved, did they deduct salaries of those 38 per cent employees? Also, employees don’t even get to know when the battery of the watches lose charge. Despite being at work, they are shown as absent,” he said.

The civic body had obtained 4,000 watches on rent (rent of one watch Rs 467, including GST) and an amount of Rs 2.24 crore will be incurred every year.

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 the fake, duplicate workers.

Not just the Municipal Corporation Employees Union, even safai karamcharis were opposed to wearing GPS watches.

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