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Mantralaya fire destroys 2,000 computers, 4.8 cr pages of government files missing

MUMBAI: A day after the Mantralaya inferno, the state government was struggling to track nearly 4.82 crore data pages stored in the building. The records were supposed to be digitised as part of a programme launched in 2010 but could not be because of “the slowness of the process”.

Till March this year, officials said, 3.18 crore data pages—or 40% of the total 8 crore leaves—had been scanned and backed up in electronic form. Forming 10 terabyte of data, the pages belonged to records of critical departments, including urban development (UD), housing, home, general administration and environment. Specifically, 12.5 lakh pages from the UD department, 34 lakh from the home department and 37 lakh from the general administration department had been digitized. The process progressed slowly because there was not enough space in the secretariat.

“In the absence of a separate place for scanning documents, we had to carry out the exercise in offices of the departments, which delayed the process,” said an official.

Had the digitization progressed at the right pace, many of the remaining 4.82 crore pages could probably have been saved. The documents were stored in four record rooms and various departments, which were not adequately fireproofed. “In hindsight, we could say that the process’ pace could have been faster and storerooms better equipped to deal with fire,” said another senior official. He added that it would be difficult to predict the state the documents may be in.

Conspiracy theories of sabotage abounded soon after a blaze broke out at Mantralaya on Thursday afternoon. Many wondered if the fire was started to destroy crucial documents relating to Adarsh and other high-profile cases. Officials, however, argued that no important data was lost since the major departments were covered in the digitisation programme. Only smaller departments such as transport and tourism were left.

The digitisation was started by the Directorate of Information Technology (DIT) in 2010. A second tender was issued this year and the contract awarded to Navi Mumbai-based Sify Technologies on May 8. For the process, a data centre was created in the new administrative building opposite Mantralaya. But after the inferno, DIT mirrored all 10 terabytes of data on Thursday night and stored in two new centres at Navi Mumbai and Sion.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said on Friday that the state will undertake a massive exercise to rescue files and documents not burnt in the fire and to recreate or restore those that got charred. Nearly 30% (about 1.55 lakh sq ft) of the total built-up area of Mantralaya was affected by the inferno. Chavan said documents stored on the building’s lower floors were impacted by the water sprayed to contain the fire on floors four to seven. “Since it will take time to drain out the water, we have filled these (files) in steel trunks covered with plastic sheets. Once the fire department gives a nod, these will be brought out and attended to,” he said.

Chavan added that the journey of the files damaged could be tracked through the document journey management system. Officials have been told to videograph damaged and untouched documents on each floor. Apart from that, experts from NASSCOM, KPMG, and NIC are being asked to help recover damaged computer hard disks. About 2,000 of the 3,500 computers in Mantralaya were burnt. Chavan said that experts believe up to 95% data could be retrieved. “Field offices have been asked to recreate files and assembly questions.”

Meanwhile, UD department officials said that all documents related to CIDCO, MMRDA and urban land ceiling were safe. However, those pertaining to town planning will have to be recreated. At the cabinet meeting on Friday, a suggestion to reduce the journey of a file and e-filing of documents was taken up.

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Posted by on Jun 23 2012. Filed under Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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