Visitors to the GST Bhavan,near Wadia College, may have witnessed heaps of files lying in a deplorable state in one of its parking lots since the last one week. A closer look will reveal that they are financial records of several taxpayers, out in the open with no one to guard them.
When this reporter and photographer made a trip to the offices of the GST Bhavan on Thursday, they found a lone guard at the entrance, who did not stop to ask her intent. On the left of the building’s main entrance, we came across the pile of documents. While one heap was covered, another pile was left open for anybody to tinker with the files. They were all stacked up in a parking lot.
No one questioned them in this area, but not too far away, a bunch of people were seen sitting under a tree and making small talk. Almost anybody could have walked to the lot and accessed important documents containing financial data of business entities.
A citizen, who recently visited the place and saw this, said, “The records that are submitted to this office are of vital importance. Transactions and financial records, along with audits, are submitted by people ranging from shopkeepers to industrialists.
It is their responsibility to maintain these records. But I think this is their way of ‘maintaining’ the documents by dumping them in open parking lot in this manner. I am told that they are lying here since quite some time. There is no one available to look after these documents. There was no security guard seen nearby. What if these documents catch fire or something else happens? How can they be kept so carelessly?”
When quizzed, the people on the office premises claimed that these documents have been lying here since almost a week. The officials tried to justify this by claiming that they were kept for sorting and that they would eventually find their way to the record room. Rupesh Manore, assistant commissioner, land and building department, said, “We are currently sorting the documents and records maintained with us. And hence they have been kept in the parking like this. The record room is right next to this parking space and hence this space is being utilised in the interim. We have appointed security guards for taking care of these records.”
Senior officials also tried justifying the move by claiming that this is being done due to the space crunch in the record room. Rajlakshmi Kadam, deputy commissioner, GST, Pune zone, claimed that these were five-year-old records of the previously levied service tax, sales tax and excise. She claimed that the documents have been taken out to ascertain whether they need to be retained or destroyed. “All these records are old. They need to be shifted to the record room. After a certain period, we need to segregate them and destroy the ones which are not needed. Also, this parking is reserved for commissioner level officers and no one else is allowed to visit the space. Our security guard also keeps doing rounds. Though the sorting exercise should be done in record room, the room doesn’t have so much of space to open the documents, segregate and keep them back in place. So it was decided that this will be done just outside the record room. The record room is just besides the parking.”