There was a joke in the corridors of power in Haryana at one time: Want to meet a bureaucrat, don’t drive to his office. Go to the golf club instead and you’ll find him taking time off during working hours to practice his putt.
While the afternoon routine of most mandarins saw a change in recent years, their availability or the number of hours in office didn’t. But all this may change soon, as the new BJP government in Haryana, taking a cue from the centre, has decided to introduce the Aadhaar-based biometric attendance system in the state from May 1.
The common biometric attendance system will be started for all employees, from peon to chief secretary, in the state civil secretariat at Chandigarh, mini secretariats at Chandigarh and all district headquarters and head offices of a dozen-odd government departments located in Panchkula to begin with. They will be expected to clock in on time, stay in office and then record their exit time while leaving.
Chief secretary Depinder Singh Dhesi held a meeting with additional chief secretaries and principal secretaries of all major departments on Thursday to work out details of the biometric attendance programme. “The attendance system will be linked to a state-level attendance web portal on pattern of the Government of India to keep a real-time tab on attendance record of officers and other employees,” said a senior officer who attended the meeting. Dhesi was not available for comment.
The Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation (Hartron), which has been designated as the nodal agency for implementing the project, will install the biometric attendance devices and develop the attendance portal.
The web portal, to be called ‘attendance.haryana.gov.in’ in all likelihood, will be managed by the National Informatics Centre. “Besides the secretariats at Chandigarh and in districts, departments such as irrigation, excise and taxation and school education will be covered in the beginning. The government plans to cover all its offices in due course,” the officer said.
The new system is unlikely to impress the state employees. They have had to alter their work routine as the new chief minister, unlike most of his predecessors, not only spends more time in the state capital, but also reaches office on dot.
Also, this is not the first time technology is being used to record attendance. In 1996, the Bansi Lal government had installed swipe-card machines at the state civil secretariat to record attendance. However, the machines were damaged by the employees.
Two years ago, the education department had also installed biometric attendance devices at government high and senior secondary schools, but the project came a cropper due to lack of maintenance and other glitches. In some cases, the devices were also reportedly damaged by the staff.