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September 28, 1999
Central Statistical Organisation battles for Y2K fundsPrakash Chawla and L Prashanth in New Delhi
The government's Central Statistical Organisation is a vital storehouse of economic data. Yet it is battling the bureaucracy to raise funds for becoming Y2K compliant.
"We had made it known to the National Y2K Action Force that our department does not have budgetary provisions for buying new software and hardware. We were assured that the action force would arrange funds for us but we are yet to hear from them," a senior officer in CSO complains.
Although a full-fledged committee has been set up on Y2K compliance in the Department of Statistics, it has to depend on the Y2K Action Force for funds.
The committee has since long given its assessment to the action force but the proposal is still awaiting a response.
The CSO in the Department of Statistics and Programme Implementation collates vital economic data including the index for industrial production that goes into framing important policy decisions of the government.
Many of the organisation's computer systems are junk by today's standards and need to be totally replaced. "Making the obsolete system Y2K compliant would cost us more money than replacing it," officers claim.
Both, desktops and mainframes need to be upgraded for Y2K compliance.
Officers point out that some of the mainframe computers are based on the COBOL language that will have to be replaced or upgraded for work in the new millennium.
"We have completed many technical deliberations and identified the equipment to be replaced," they say, adding that it would now depend on how soon the Y2K Action Force would release the funds.
The action force has identified 11 critical sectors for making them Y2K compliant by October 31.
The Department of Statistics does not figure in these sectors that include civil aviation, railways, power, ports, telecom, defence, atomic energy, space, banking and finance, insurance and petroleum.
According to one estimate, government organisations would need to spend about Rs 7 billion in upgradation of the systems so as to ensure that they do not crash at 0000 hours on January 1, 2000.
Of late, the Action Force has become active. It has been holding sector-specific meetings to check the computer bug compliance and contingency plans. The Action Force, under the chairmanship of Montek Singh Ahluwalia, took stock of the compliance in the banking and finance sectors on September 10.
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