M3 Features

Digitised death records of Kolkata icons

February 17, 2014

If you want a copy of the death certificate of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, ask Kolkata Municipal Corporation. One of the oldest civic bodies of the country, KMC has digitised its death register, dating back to 128 years, and can now issue copies on demand.

KMC, which recently traced Mark Tully's birth certificate, has also found the record of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, who died on August 16, 1886. Starting with this date, KMC can now give copies of the millions of deaths it has recorded. Digitisation of birth certificates will be taken up next.

This will strike an emotional chord with Kolkatans who can now get birth or death records of their ancestors and famous personalities.

The idea was first mooted by Tapan Chakrabarty, deputy manager of KMC Health Records section, who suggested that records of famous personalities be traced and preserved.

Mayoral council member-health Atin Ghosh took it one step further and asked that all the death records be digitised before they were lost for ever.

Chakrabarty has been put in charge of this Herculean task – KMC was formed in 1876, 10 years before Ramakrishna's death. His last rites were performed at Ratan Babur Ghat, now known as Ramakrishna Mahasamadhi Smashan, built on land donated by the zamindars of Noral (now in Bangladesh) in 1874.

"The effort has a public utility and will also interest scholars who want to research the city's history," said Ghosh. All you need to do is to apply to the KMC health department for the death certificate with a covering letter explaining your intention. Once the identity of the applicant is established, KMC will issue the certificate with the click of a mouse. However, this facility is available for only those who died or were cremated within the Kolkata municipal area.

The certificate will have a serial number, the KMC hologram and the declaration that it is issued under Section 12/17 of the Registration of Birth and Death (RBD) Act. It will also bear the original registration number on the certificate at the time the body was taken to the crematorium. So far, records have been updated till the '80s, special officer-health Debashis Sen said. Impressed with the progress, KMC engaged 10 data entry operators from Thursday to update the remainder.

The digitised records will have huge archival value. For instance, scholars would love to know that Dr Mahendralal Sarkar had written the death certificate of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. KMC archives will also preserve documents like the post-mortem report of Benoy Bose, the Bengal revolutionary, and the death details of Rabindranath Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.

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Comments (1)
Mainak Reply
February 21, 2014
Preserving history!
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