Your birthday, documented

Your birthday, documented

BBMP recently introduced e-transfer of birth and death details from hospitals to Palike registration centres. This has quickened issue of certificates, but the public could fall into traps of deliberate delay due to poor awareness.

Vikram erupted in joy as the nurse spilled the news: His wife had delivered a baby girl, after a problem-free process at a private nursing home in Indiranagar. But what came next left him drained. His hunt for the child’s birth certificate had him run around the registration offices, ask questions galore. Five working days later, after much struggle, Vikram finally had an official proof of the baby’s birth!

Strange, but true. Apparently, no one told Vikram that the entire process had been computerised, that the hospital concerned had the responsibility to get him the certificate before the mother was discharged. No one told him that the hospital had to send all details of the baby to the concerned BBMP registration office. The institution had to get a printed, digitally signed certificate at no extra cost!

Since February 1 this year, the Palike has introduced e-Transfer of events (birth or death), implying that information about a birth or death in a medical institution could and should be transferred to the competent authority the same day. This effectively means a birth certificate could be obtained the day a child is born. Death certificates could be collected by the relative of the deceased within the next three days.

Online registration

Online registration of births and deaths has been there in the city since January 1, 2010. But what changed this February was this: Before, only BBMP could enter the details, now the hospitals could directly input the birth / death details using their unique user ID and password. The event is immediately registered at the BBMP registration centres once the details are verified. Digitally signed by the competent authority, the free printed copy is sent to the hospital to be issued to the family.

The competent authority, Joint Director (Statistics), BBMP, Shankarappa makes it clear that no hospital can delay issuing birth certificates when the mother gets discharged. The parent could refuse to pay the hospital fees if she is not issued the certificate free-of-cost and within the stipulated time, says the official. Since birth and death registrations are now part of the Sakaala scheme, it is also mandatory that the certificates are in the applicants’ hands in the shortest time.

But in the city’s 40 maternity homes and six referral hospitals attached to the Palike, the registration problem is complicated by illiteracy and lack of awareness among patients. Officials in charge of these homes claim that the certificates are issued at the spot without delay. But problems crop up when the child’s name is not entered properly or an initial or surname is left out. “We have to keep asking them about the correct address, date of birth. They keep changing names too,” says a doctor attached to a maternity home.

Penalty for delay

The doctor insists that there is no scope for delay in issuing birth certificates as the database attached to a central server penalises even the maternity home. “We have to issue the certificate within seven days. If the details are entered even on the eighth day, there is a fine,” she explains.

Low awareness among the poor about the significance of a birth certificate has been an issue for long. Realisation used to dawn on them only when the child is admitted to a school. But the emergence of many government schemes offering subsidy with birth certificate as a proof of identity, has changed the scene somewhat. Death certificates are also important when the money from the account of the deceased is to be transferred to the survivor’s account. Life insurance claims too demand death certificates.


Shankarappa puts the onus of issuing the death certificate on the hospital, if the event has occurred there. The relative of the deceased could collect it within three days but they need not wait for a post-mortem or other formalities.

Digitisation of the birth and death records has definitely smoothened the hitherto cumbersome process. Is there a move now to computerise the old records? The Palike officials inform that the Government of India has sanctioned funds to scan the records between 2001 and 2010. The process is slow but is being implemented in a phased manner, they say.

Registration units

In the BBMP limits, each of the 27 assembly constituencies is considered a registering unit for birth / death. Besides, the five major government hospitals in the city--Bowring & Lady Curzon, Victoria, Vani Vilas, Ghousia and KC General hospital -- are taken as units due to the large number of births and deaths there. Also included are the 22 maternity homes and referral hospitals attached to BBMP. None of these institutions can register events outside their jurisdiction.

Birth / death certificates are issued free-of-cost for upto 21 days from the day of the event. Between 21 days and 30 days, the certificates will be issued with a penalty of Rs. 50 from the local registration offices. But if the event is more than a month-old and less than a year old, the matter has to go up to the competent authority, the joint director (statistics), BBMP.

Beyond one year, no certificate can be issued without an order from a First Class Magistrate. Applicants will have to approach the court, file a case and go through the proceedings. Evidences will have to be given and verified. As a BBMP official explains, “there will be a need to prove that the incident has happened.”

Role of touts

How far does the touts rule the birth / death registration process? Zero, claims Shan­karappa, banking on the e-transfer process he spearheaded to make the entire process faster and transparent. However, the role of middlemen and touts could not be ruled out in cases where the application itself is delayed, and involves courts and evidences. A BBMP maternity home doctor hints at such touts at work in some of the registration offices spread across the city.

But with the e-transfer system gaining ground and awareness about the entire exercise increasing, corrupt practises might just get arrested. Here’s one pointer: Thanks to the online networking between the hospitals and the registration offices, the number of people crowding at the Central registration office in Upparpet has now drastically come down from 400 to around 50! Now, that is some reason for hope.


DATA INPUT

Online registration of births and deaths started on January 1, 2010. From February 1 this year, hospitals can directly input the birth / death details using unique passwords.

DON’T PAY

No hospital can delay issuing birth certificates when the mother gets dischar­g­ed. Parents could refuse to pay hospital fees if certificate is not issued, says Jt Director (Statistics), BBMP

LOW AWARENESS

In the 40 maternity homes and six referral hospitals attached to the Palike, the registration problem is complicated by illiteracy and lack of awareness among patients.


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