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EXCLUSIVE | Govt May Get Floor Space the Size of 2 Rashtrapati Bhavans in Ongoing Office Clean-up

Author: Aman Sharma
Publication: News18.com
Date: October 27, 2021
URL:      https://www.news18.com/news/india/exclusive-govt-may-get-floor-space-like-2-rashtrapati-bhavans-in-ongoing-office-clean-up-4368140.html?s=03

PM Modi had directed to weed out all non-necessary government files, and clear pendency of public grievances and references from MPs. Also, the Centre has earned nearly Rs 4.29 crore by disposing of the scrap.

Nearly double the floor area of the Rashtrapati Bhavan could be freed up in terms of space in central government offices by the end of this month as part of the big October clean-up ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, details learnt by News18 show.

As of date, nearly 3.18 lakh square feet of space has been freed in government offices by weeding out about 7.3 lakh files in a mega drive that started on October 2. The floor area of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is about 2 lakh square feet. “A total of 9,31,442 government files have been identified for weeding out by the end of this month. 78% of the job is done. Work is on a war-scale,” a senior official in the government told News18.

What’s more, the government has earned nearly Rs 4.29 crore by disposing of this scrap. So which are the ministries that had the maximum files to be weeded out? Leading the pack is the environment ministry, which had 99,000 such files, the home ministry had 81,000, railways had 80,000, and the CBI and CBDT had about 50,000 files apiece. “The space freed up in government offices is unprecedented,” the senior official said.

Another major job in the drive is cleaning the pendency of references received by ministries from MPs and parliamentary assurances. The government discovered as many as 10,273 references from MPs were pending disposal in various ministries. Ideally, they have to be replied to promptly within 15 days. News18 has learnt that over half of such references, nearly 5,500, have now been cleared. The ministers have to themselves respond to such letters.

So ministers like Ashwini Vaishnaw and Nitin Gadkari have been on a letter-signing spree as their ministries had the maximum pendency. Railways had nearly 2,700 references from MPs out of which 1,700-odd have been disposed of, while the roads and highways ministry had nearly 900 such pending references, of which over 400 have now been cleared. Ministers have also responded to 659 out of the 2,340 pending parliamentary assurances so far.

What surprised officials was that 205 inter-ministerial references on Cabinet proposals were also found to be pending, of which 135 have now been cleared. 1,201 pending references from states, including from chief ministers, were also picked for review and over 700 of them have been responded to. The same also had to be signed by the union ministers. 606 rules or processes were eased too, after 784 of these were identified.

Public grievances on target as well

Pending public grievances were also taken up on priority under this drive and nearly 50,000 of them have now been disposed of after 74,806 were identified to be pending beyond the stipulated time of 45 days. Over half of the 22,784 appeals filed by people in the public grievance process have also been cleared. The Centre this year has so far received 18.2 lakh public grievances, out of which it has cleared a total of 16.8 lakh so far.

The Prime Minister had ordered a mega drive this month from October 2 to weed out all non-necessary government files and free up office space, as well as clear pendency of public grievances and references from MPs. The cabinet secretary had written a letter to this effect for the drive from October 2-31, as reported first by News18 on September 20. All ministries had undertaken a drive in September to identify such pendency.

A government official explained to News18 that government files are of three categories. One is Category A, which are of archival value, dating from 1947-1996, and which should be preserved in the National Archives of India after being sent there post indexing. Category B files are generally kept for 10 years. And Category C files are to be kept for 3 years. “Post that, such files are to be weeded out but it has not happened so far,” an official said.

The government found it had about 18.46 lakh files up for review, and it reviewed about 80% of them — 14.7 lakh files. It ultimately identified 9,31,442 files for weeding out. Initially, the government had estimated it would need to junk only 2.5 lakh files before the review threw up bigger numbers. “We have 27 lakh e-files and we are fast moving to an e-office system. Physical files will reduce through that too,” a senior official said.


-Aman Sharma, Senior Editor (Politics), at CNN-News18, and Bureau Chief at News18 in Delhi, has nearly two decades of experience in covering the wide spectrum of politics and the Prime Minister’s Office. He has written widely on politics, elections and policy in Delhi, and internal security and investigation for almost a decade.
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