Praja Palana applications ferried by unauthorised persons; GHMC denies data theft

BRS working president KT Rama Rao urged the Telangana government to take precautions to prevent this data from falling into the hands of cybercriminals.

ByDeepika Pasham

Published Jan 09, 2024 | 10:27 PMUpdatedJan 09, 2024 | 10:28 PM

Praja Palana application see on road (supplied)

A recent series of viral videos circulating on social media, showing individuals carrying filled Praja Palana applications, has sparked a controversy.

People waiting in queues from 28 December to 6 January submitted these applications in assigned Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) wards to avail of the six guarantees the Congress had promised the masses if came to power in Telangana.

The BRS in the Opposition on Tuesday, 9 January, alleged that these videos pointed to data theft by the Telangana government.

Also read: Telangana to set up panel to process Praja Palana applications

The videos

The videos apparently showed people carrying applications in the localities of Hayathnagar, Quthbullapur, and Kukatpally.

The police from these places informed South First that no FIR was registered over any such incident, as nobody raised a complaint.

In one of the videos, a man could be heard saying, “Municipality officials have asked me to drop off these forms in another locality, and I am doing so.”

In another video, an individual said, “My name is Rohith and I live in Quthbullapur. I am a student and I am assigned to enter the data of these application forms in my office or at home.”

He continued: “I don’t know anything about the rules but will do what the officials tell me.”

GHMC Commissioner Ronald Rose clarified to South First, “We currently have only 300 data-entry operators whereas we need 4,500-5,000 of them in the GHMC limits.”

He added: “We have been given permission by the government to hire private agencies, and that is the process.”

He also said: “Our GHMC supervisors will oversee the process of data entering and we are being given a data-entry operator and a system by the private agencies.”

Rose, however, noted: “Officials are supposed to carry the application papers in trunk boxes.”

The GHMC commissioner also noted: “In the case of the Hayathnagar viral video, the team leader asked the private agency person to carry the applications in an auto-rickshaw, but the man carried them on a bike and he fell on the way. That was where where people recorded the video.

He added: “We have issued a notice suspending Hayathnagar Tax Section (Circle 3) Superintendent M Mahender. He is said to have exhibited negligence in performing duties assigned to him.”

Rose continued: “In Quthbullapur, we arranged for computers in our GHMC ward office and the agency people assigned were picking up the forms and going to the office. As they came out, a few people took videos, and we are condemning it.”

He also said: “All the applications are safe with GHMC, and we are instructing others to follow rules and tacking actions on others who are violating the rules.”

Related: Problems dishearten applicants for 6 Congress guarantees

BRS alleges data theft

The BRS was quick to latch on to this opportunity to attack the Congress, which handed it a comprehensive defeat in last year’s Telangana Assembly elections.

BRS working president KT Rama Rao said on X (formerly Twitter), “I’ve been watching & hearing from concerned citizens about numerous videos of Praja Palana applications being mishandled carelessly by certain private individuals. These application forms contain sensitive data of Crores of Telangana citizens [sic].”

He added: “I urge the state government to take appropriate precautions to prevent this confidential data from falling into the hands of cybercriminals [sic].”

KTR also said: “Don’t share OTP or any bank details if someone calls you offering to give pension or house or any of the 6 Guarantees. Don’t unnecessarily lose money listening to the words of Dy CM Bhatti Vikramarka. [sic]”

Meanwhile, BRS spokesperson Krishank told South First, “There are numerous questions on the credentials of the private agencies being hired to do the data-entry work.”

He added: “The Telangana Police have also sent out an alert on people receiving calls for six grantees of the Telangana government, but deleted it later.”

He continued: “Were there any tenders to appoint these agencies? Why was Meeseva not selected and how experienced are these private agencies? We are very sure that this is data theft.”