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Biometric plan to catch truants

- GTA wants retina and fingerprint scan for attendance

Darjeeling, Sept. 10: The GTA has decided to introduce biometric attendance system in some of its offices and hospitals in the hills to monitor the attendance of employees.

“We have ordered 20 biometric machines at the cost of around Rs 5 lakh. These will be installed in all important GTA offices and hospitals,” Binay Tamang, an executive member in charge of the Sabha’s establishment department, said today.

He did not say by when the system would be in place.

In the new system, the attendance would be recorded through retina scanning and fingerprints of the staff.

Right now, only Group A officers at Swasthya Bhavan in Calcutta undergo biometric scans for attendance.

“We believe that many employees come to office late and some also sign the attendance register for the entire week (in advance). The new system will put an end to such practices,” Tamang said.

The biometric system would be installed at the Lal Kothi, Lewis Jubilee Complex, Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan, Darjeeling district hospital, Kalimpong and Kurseong subdivisional hospitals and offices of the engineering department across the hills.

Officials in the GTA Sabha said around 2,000 of the 15,000-odd employees draw salaries without attending office. “Almost 2,000 of the 15,000 employees don’t attend office. Many work in other parts of the country but their family members take the salaries (deposited in their names). We also think many employees have died but others are drawing their salaries,” Tamang said.

Salaries are distributed in cash at GTA offices and an employee has to sign and collect it. “We have asked all employees to submit their voter identity cards, three passport size photographs, educational certificates and retention order given by the DGHC,” said Tamang.

The documents have to be submitted by September 14 and they would be matched with the existing records.

Most of the employees of the GTA were working with the DGHC earlier. After the council was dissolved in August, the staff members were absorbed into the GTA with the same designation.

Apart from the 6,321 DGHC employees, the GTA also has around 116 regular staff members on deputation from the state government and teachers of primary, secondary and higher secondary schools. “If the biometric system brings about the required change, we will introduce them even in schools,” Tamang said.

“The GTA has to dole out Rs 25 crore every month on salaries but the work culture is poor. We have come to make a difference in the administration and the old ways have to be changed,” he said.

Tamang added that preliminary findings had revealed that DGHC workers who have studied till Class VIII had been posted as assistant directors. “Some people who have only cleared Class VIII were appointed as assistant directors. This is why we have asked all the employees to submit their educational qualification certificates,” he said.

The official said 550 employees had been transferred to other departments that had less staff. “Certain departments like parks and garden have excess employees while key sectors like health have been neglected as many health centres are understaffed,” said Tamang.