Keep mobile phone conversations short.
This is what municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar has told civic officials whose mobile phone bills are paid by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). This is one of the several measures Kumar has adopted to curb the BMC’s ever-increasing establishment costs. He has issued a nine-point circular on February 15 saying that civic employees should keep their mobile conversations brief.
“All charges towards long-distance [calls] like national, international calls, roaming calls and usage of internet applications like WAP and GPRS would have to borne either by the individual officer or [will] have to take sanction by [sic] the municipal commissioner,” says the circular, a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times.
The BMC’s establishment cost is expected to go up to 60% of its funds. This means that for every rupee that the civic body has, 60 paise goes towards expenditure on salaries, stationery and various bills of employees, leaving merely 40 paise for the city’s development.
The BMC spends more than Rs50 lakh every year on its officers’ mobile phone bills. The circular also states that employees should pay their mobile phone bills before the due date to avoid penalty for late payments.
The BMC has given more than 200 mobile SIM cards to civic officials and a few departments such as education, health, water works and the assessor and collection department under the closed user group scheme. The reimbursement these officials are entitled to for their bills depends on their designation.
Except the mayor, municipal commissioner and four additional municipal commissioners, all other officials such as deputy municipal commissioners, assistant municipal commissioners and junior officers have a monthly reimbursement limit ranging from Rs199 to Rs2,000. The circular is not applicable to the chairmen of various civic committees.
Unhappy officials said it is not possible to keep all conversations short. “When corporators or legislators call us, we have to hear whatever they want to say,” said an assistant municipal commissioner.