TAMIL NADU

Corporation mute to staff overstaying in service

CHENNAI MAY 22. Even as the Corporation says that it is pondering over ways to make itself financially competent by introducing geographic information systems that will reportedly `double' the property tax revenue, the civic agency seems to be ignoring several obvious pointers to the contrary in its administration.

The instances of the civic agency staff `overstaying' in service have become a regular phenomenon, so much so that it is a baffling scenario when resolutions pertaining to payment for such employees do not even get discussed in the council meetings. Barring a few councillors, who are members of the Appointments Committee now headed by the Deputy Mayor, not many others are even aware of the occurrences.

In the previous council meeting held on April 30, a resolution was passed requesting the Government to consider the period of stay of a conservancy worker in Division 73, O. Narasamma, beyond her retirement date as a case of `extension'. The resolution makes a curious case study because the person's birth date was altered in her service record from 1.7.1941 to 4.7.1950 to facilitate her to overstay beyond her actual retirement date by 16 months. During the enquiry, the Zone V officials had thrown up their hands stating that they were unable to find out how the birth date got altered in the service records, even while the computer records showed her birth date nine years earlier.

The incident has exposed a large-scale racket in the service registry of the civic agency, prompting a total examination of the records.

In direct contrast, another resolution that was passed in the meeting pertained to a `wrongful' voluntary retirement of an employee. Another conservancy staff, G. Mathiah, had opted for voluntary retirement on February 7, 2002. The administration had closed his record after he had served the requisite three months notice. But only later did they realise that he had in fact served only 89 days. Till recently, he had not received retirement benefits because of the mistake of the administration. The resolution called for acceptance of the retirement on humanitarian grounds. Similar mistakes have been reported earlier too. A conservancy worker from Zone I was to have retired on June 30, 2000. But he "stayed on" till September 7, 2001 collecting his pay cheques until the civic agency finally decided to rest his services. When the issue came up at the Standing Committee for Appointments, the officials said the service register of the staff was missing. Another case of overstay was that of a tax assessor with Zone V. His `official' date of retirement was January 31, 2000. But he stayed on till August 11 that year. Once again the service register was reported `missing'.

One of the main reasons quoted for the anomaly is the lack of computerisation of the service records. The service records are mainly maintained at the zonal levels, and frequent transfers have only worsened the situation. The complicity of insiders in such "deliberate" mistakes is being investigated.

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