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Clear out old, dusty files & clean up, Uddhav govt tells ‘plush’ Mantralaya

While the entrance to the Maharashtra govt headquarters in Mumbai is plush, it gives way to sloppy, cramped offices, littered with old files, magazines and newspapers.

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Mumbai: Visitors to Mumbai’s Mantralaya — the Maharashtra government headquarters —  are greeted by landscaped gardens, shiny glass doors, and beyond them, a large, airy, air-conditioned foyer, flooded with light. However, as one takes the shopping mall-style escalators to the offices of the various departments in the building, the plushness gives way to cramped offices, with files, magazines and newspapers heaped up on desks.

Taking note of this, the Maharashtra government has reprimanded all its departments, saying most offices look dirty, with old files piling up, and that the offices were unbecoming of an important address like the Mantralaya.

The state general administration department issued a government resolution on 1 July, marking it to all departments, asking them to undertake a clean-up drive, preserve important files properly, according to the state government’s rules, archive information where needed, and put unwanted, closed files into the shredder.

“It has been seen that in a number of departments and offices, closed files are lying around in large numbers and as a result most offices look unclean. Mantralaya is the state government’s headquarters. In such an important building, there are unnecessary items, records not currently in use lying around,” the government resolution stated, urging departments to clean their offices this very month.

“All departments should this month itself categorise documents in their offices. Whatever is not required should be scrapped. Whatever needs to be preserved should be sent to the record room, or to the divisional offices to be preserved,” the general administration department said.

Also read: Video on, formal dress, no screenshots — Maharashtra govt code for official online meetings

‘Similar warning given in 2018, but offices are still messy’

In 2018, when the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP-Shiv Sena government was in power, the state cabinet had discussed how messy government offices tend to be and decided to hold a special cleanliness mission.

In its resolution, the general administration department said the situation is fairly unchanged despite the 2018 cabinet decision, and that departments need to follow the guidelines laid back then to rid themselves of unwanted files and make space in offices.

According to state government rules, very important files have to be preserved forever, some less important files have to be preserved for 12 years, some need to be preserved for a year, and others can be scrapped once the files are closed, said a senior state government official, who did not wish to be named.

“There is an organisational management secretary in Mantralaya who is in charge of the cleanliness in the building. Other than that, departments do their best to categorise files and send them to record rooms. Every department has a record room, which can be in any government property across Mumbai,” she said.

According to her, efforts were also made till a few years ago to digitise all files, but there had been a major push back against it and the urgency has now tapered off.

Another senior bureaucrat, who too did not wish to be named, said the main problem is the space crunch at Mantralaya. “There is anyway a major space constraint in Mantralaya. Also, this cabinet is quite big and a lot of space is taken up by ministers and their offices,” he said.

“We need to ensure most of the state government’s internal communication is in a digital form. That is the only way out,” he added.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Maharashtra’s 23,000 ‘backlog’ deaths skew India’s fatality rate, but it isn’t only offender


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