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Biometric snag shames secretariat

All good things come to an end. And the end is only sooner in Jharkhand.

The biometric attendance system, launched in July 2013 at Project Building and subsequently introduced in 10 other government establishments in January this year to rein in truant babus, has gone kaput with a section of IT officials insinuating device sabotage.

The problem came to the fore last week when employees at Nepal House had trouble registering their attendance.

“Some days ago, I tried for an hour to mark my presence, but the machine refused to recognise my identification number, which I entered after pressing my finger on the sensor. Frustrated, I signed on the register like old times,” said an agriculture department clerk, not willing to be named.

He added that the glitch was not random, but routine. “Yesterday (Tuesday), I managed to mark my attendance only around 1pm though I had been working since morning.”

A mines and geology department assistant, who also works at Nepal House, echoed the clerk. “None of the seven biometric devices installed at the secretariat is working smoothly. There must be some technical snag. We are signing the register for the past four days or so,” he said.

Syed Sharafat Ali, an assistant in the office of additional principal conservator of forest at Van Bhavan, Doranda, was so agitated that he, unlike the others, did not hesitate to go on the record to share his “frustrating” attendance experience.

“If an employee spends the whole day trying to mark his biometric presence, when will he work? More than 400 at Van Bhavan are grappling with device glitch since May 3. For three days, the system registered attendance for some, while it didn’t for others. Yesterday (Tuesday), the machine didn’t function at all,” Ali said.

State IT secretary N.N. Sinha said he was aware of technical problem. “A snag has developed in the system through which data reaches the data centre. Necessary instructions have been issued for rectification of the technical problem. Government employees will be able to register their attendance smoothly once again,” Sinha added without specifying any time frame.

A department insider, however, expressed scepticism. “Many are against biometric attendance. They have long wanted the devices to be removed. I cannot rule out deliberate bad handling of the machines,” he said.