Recording device mooted to keep tabs on officials’ phone calls
CIVIC BOSSES have decided to snoop to conquer…corruption. The Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) administration has proposed installation of a recording device to monitor telephonic conversations of municipal officials in a bid to check graft.
The bugging device, expected to cost roughly Rs 40 lakh, is among several proposals listed in the e-governance component of a municipal reform programme prepared for the Madhya Pradesh Urban Services for the Poor (MPUSP) project.
Installation of 50 touch-screens in busy areas, grievance redressal through video-conferencing and setting up of 10 Distribution Resource and Facility Centres are among other ideas mooted under the e-governance module, which accounts for Rs 2,781.68 lakh of the total reform project cost of Rs 3,581.68 lakh.
So, will the possibility of Big Brother listening in force municipal employees to mend their ways. Only time will tell. The proposal, however, has ‘bugged’ civic officials who argue that the move has serious moral-legal implications.
“How can the Corporation tap telephones, even its own, when such an action is the sole prerogative of law-enforcement agencies. And that too after it obtains the court’s approval,” queried a senior officer.
IMC Speaker Shankar Lalwani, who chairs the committee overseeing MPUSP-funded projects, admitted that there could be legal tangles in implementing the telephone proposal. He, however, refused further comment, as the proposal was ‘still in the early stages’.
Among the other projects listed in the e-governance component are setting up of 50 touch-screen information dispensers at a cost of Rs 45 lakh, distribution of five lakh multipurpose smart cards that would enable the owners to keep tabs on water and property tax billings as well as monitor processing of ration card applications and other documents.
Mindful of the forthcoming scarcity season civic bosses have proposed equipping water tankers with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to keep track of vehicles on supply rounds. The proposal is expected to cost Rs 70 lakh.
The e-governance component also calls for setting up a Rs 70 lakh videoconferencing facility that would enable residents to put their plaints directly to the Municipal Commissioner and the Mayor.
The videoconferencing chamber is expected to cost Rs 44 lakh with an additional Rs 6 lakh going towards ancillary equipment, while training and public awareness campaigns would take up Rs 15 and Rs 25 lakh respectively.
Funds are being provided under the MPUSP project, jointly financed by the State Government and Department for International Development (DfID), UK, for carrying out institutional reforms as well as capacity-building, development of human resources, implementing e-governance techniques and improving fiscal management in four municipal corporations of the State including Bhopal and Indore.
Installation of 50 touch-screens
Videoconference centre for redress of civic grievances
Ten Distribution Resource and Facility Centres
Fitting water tankers with GPS to keep track of vehicles
Distribution of five lakh multipurpose smart cards for tracking tax billing, payment and application processing status