9500 files from the Building Proposals department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation have gone missing.
Among them, files that have the building plans, blueprints , and architectural plans of sensitive city structures like The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Indian Naval Hospital Asvini, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, and some Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport(BEST) buildings.
The Municipal commissioner admitted to NDTV that the civic administration has no idea since when the files have been missing. They claim the files could be missing for the past four or five years.
RTI activist Sharad Yadav who exposed the lapse says the idea that the files could be wrong hands is a chilling thought. "In 2008, Taj Hotel was besieged by terrorists for 60 hours. They have lost files of the same hotel. Looks like they have not learnt their lesson", he says.
The massive and shocking security lapse was highlighted when authorities failed to locate plans of Mahim's Altaf mansion after it crashed 4 weeks ago killing 10 people. This prompted Mr Yadav to file an RTI.
"We are taking steps to recover the missing files, punish the guilty and reconstruct the files. There are other BMC departments that may have these files," Sitaram Kunte, Mumbai's Municipal Commissioner said, adding that it's a serious lapse by the BMC.
The BMC is digitizing records of nearly three lakh buildings in the city to maintain stricter control on access to the files.
In this case, the BMC has filed a complaint with the police and informed the state government. "If it's found that any BMC official has been responsible for the filesgoing missing, strict action will be taken against them under the Maharashtra Public records Act. The punishment includes a fine and a jail term," Commissioner Kunte said.