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State government work will be badly hit

Destroyed departments and their staff have to be allocated offices; records and data stored in files and computers have to be recovered.

mumbai Updated: Jun 22, 2012 00:32 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Hindustan Times

The fire that has destroyed several major departments on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors of Mantralaya will likely bring government work to a standstill for the next few days.

The fire has gutted the offices of the chief minister, deputy chief minister, chief secretary and several ministers and secretaries.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday said he would try to restore operations as soon as possible. Attempts will be made to continue work in the unaffected parts of Mantralaya on Friday, but no visitors will be allowed, and the government has cancelled all scheduled meetings. Offices of affected departments will be shifted to other locations.

As an immediate measure, Chavan has asked ministers whose offices were damaged to work from offices in their bungalows or the state legislature, which is right across the secretariat. Their staff will also be moved to different government offices where space is available.

“My department is destroyed. We were in the process of digitising files, but we had not completed it. Once we get access, we need to do an audit to see what we have lost,” said Sachin Ahir, minister of state for housing, whose office is on the fourth floor. All important files related to Mhada, housing schemes and issues related to mill workers are in this department.

Similarly, all documents related to school permissions and data related to funds given to government schools was stored in the school education department.

“I could see my department on TV and it was burning through the evening. I am sure nothing is left of it,” said education minister Rajendra Darda.

What is worrying is how the government is going to recover the records and data stored in files and computers in departments and offices such as those of the chief minister, deputy chief minister, chief secretary, urban development, revenue, housing, home and tribal development, all of which have been destroyed.

A senior official said it could take a few months to sort out the damage. “There is nothing left of the departments. After an audit, we will need to figure out ways in which important files related to land records, housing scheme records, home department will be replaced. But some records are only with the government, and no one might have a duplicate,” he said.

Chavan said he cannot estimate the number of files destroyed. “Once we get permission from the structural engineers, secretaries from each department will enter the building and check. Only after that can the loss be estimated,” he said. The process of digitisation of all files had been initiated. “We have scanned 2.27 lakh files from various departments - around 3.18 crores of pages.” These have back-ups stored at another location.

Chief Secretary JK Banthiya has asked heads of organisations such as the MMRDA, BMC, MSRDC and CIDCO to depute senior officers to help normalise the situation at Mantralaya.

Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said a structural audit of Mantralaya will be conducted to assess the damage.

First Published: Jun 22, 2012 00:30 IST