Hyderabad: If bureaucrats and their office staff are struggling to trace important files and documents, private individuals associated with government contracts and works are trying to make the most of the chaos by either preparing fake government orders (GOs) or forging signatures of top bureaucrats to benefit themselves.
This is the state of affairs across several sarkari offices just days after the state government vacated the Secretariat premises and shifted departments to different premises until the new Secretariat complex comes up. This amid fears being expressed by bureaucrats that there is every possibility of files getting lost or someone making it happen deliberately for their own selfish ends. Across offices, senior officers and their juniors are engaged in endless heated discussions over the ‘missing’ files and documents is a common sight. At some offices, the entire office staff is being deputed to trace some of the documents and files. “I will not say that it is missing, it may have been misplaced and these are some of the daily hassles ever since the shifting process began,” said a senior government official.
This official is worried over a leave letter he submitted to the government, which got lost and now the staff is searching for it. The official had applied leave much in advance but with his letter missing, his leave has not been sanctioned yet.
The scene at another key department was similar. Their boss, a senior IAS officer, had asked his staff for a particular document but they were unable to find it, inviting the wrath of the babu. “This was one of the main reasons why not many of us were keen on shifting out of the existing Secretariat but we do not have a say. Though we have taken enough precautions to carefully shift transport the files and other documents to the temporary offices, keeping track of every paper becomes difficult. This is where some people with vested interests can play mischief,” another official said, adding that space constraints have also become a major issue.
With the Telangana High Court directing the government not to demolish the Secretariat till further orders, officials are at their wits’ end as to how long they will have to continue amid the chaos. “The visitors are facing a bigger problem. They come to us with certain documents and we are unable to find the documents linked to it; they are forced to come back again later. In several departments, a lot of work has come to a standstill at the moment,” the official complained adding that with distributed administration and ministries re-located to several locations, the public too was confused.
While the administration struggles with its day-to-day work, new set of problems arose when a fake GO from the irrigation department surfaced in the last week of September. The bogus GO got circulated within many sub-departments before someone smelt the rat.
Though the Hyderabad police has registered a case and is investigating, it has not achieved a breakthrough. The fake GO (MS no 2136 dated September 25) spoke about waving liquidated damages amounting to Rs 8,821,795 which investigators believe would have benefited some contractors who take up government projects.
Even more shocking was the recent discovery of the signatures of none other than the Chief Minister’s principal secretary, S. Narsinga Rao, being forged. The Hyderabad police once again registered a case and took up the investigation. His signatures were forged in connection with a land regularisation issue.
“These two incidents appear to be timed around the time Secretariat was witnessing hectic activity in terms of shifting of furniture, files, documents and office material. The culprits thought that in the ensuing chaos, these (fake GO and forged signature) would go unnoticed. We only know of these two instances at the moment and, who knows there could be more. There are vested interests who will try to prepare fake documents and circulate them in the departments or get files stolen or misplaced to serve their interests. Many officials are aware of that,'' a police official told this newspaper....