Going Local



It is usual for municipal officers to visit your premises when you apply for
a new water or electricity connection. And the process usually takes weeks or
even months in cases, depending on how well you grease the person concerned.

But residents under jurisdiction of the Kalyan Dombivli municipal corporation
(KDMC), in Maharashtra can now breathe easy following a new feature in their
corporation”s e-governance system-all processes that involve physical
verification onsite have built-in mechanisms that automatically alert
supervisors when site visits have been pending for more than two days.

The e-governance portal for KDMC has been online since 1999 and today, 12
lakh citizens of Kalyan and Dombivli use the portal to access 100 different
citizen services, ranging from water and electricity bill payments to online
complaint redressal. "90% of the collections for 120,000 water connections
and 160,000 properties are today done through online systems," says Dhanraj
Khamatkar, commissioner, KDMC. But the best part of this e-governance success
story: KDMC is not alone in its effort.

No
more queues for bill payments

A number of municipal bodies across the country have embarked on e-Governance
projects with the clear objective of improved citizen services. Municipalities
in cities of Coimbatore, New Delhi and Ahmedabad are just a few cases in point.
Take Coimbatore-this South Indian town with a population of 12 lakh also has
online access to its municipal services, from property and professional tax to
license fee and water bills payments. The Coimbatore Municipal Corporation (CMC)
has its own web portal at www.coimbatore-corporation.com. Apart from the
website, there are 15 banks and six computerized facilitation centers spread
across the city through which citizens can make speedy payments.

Someone applying for a new service can now track the status, thanks to a
unique reference ID given to each application, which is traceable on the
website. Certificates for birth, death, tax collection, dangerous and offensive
trade fee etc are also automated and can be issued at the collection centers or
can be requested through the website with payments made on delivery.

Public grievances and complaints to the CMC can be posted directly at the
website, and are automatically assigned to the concerned official using built-in
workflow system, using Oracle”s software. Besides benefits to the citizens,
the corporation also gained for itself a 17% increase in revenue collections.

While Ahmedabad”s municipality too has its portal online providing most
citizen services, it has also gone in for a Geo-Indexing System (GIS) and
Geo-Positioning System (GPS) in order to detect and stop illegal constructions
in the city. Using satellites of ISRO that pass over the city every 10 days, the
corporation can detect illegal constructions within its limits.

And the case with Delhi”s municipal corporation is somewhat unique-rather
than focus solely on providing citizen services, MCD wants to leverage
e-Governance primarily for improved interaction and information exchange within
the departments. The corporation recently signed a MoU with Bangalore-based
E-Governance Foundation for the project, which incidentally has also done
similar implementations for Bangalore municipality in streamlining their
functions and introducing e-governance on a major scale.

The list of municipalities with e-Governance projects does not stop at this-other
big names include Mumbai, Lucknow and Hyderabad-clearly emphasizing the
genuine success of the electronic model of governance at municipal level. The
veracity of these initiatives can also be gauged from the number of accolades
showered on many of these municipalities.

Municipal bodies are looking at ways to improve budgeting, asset management
and accounting processes and systems. The rise of e-Governance initiatives
raises just one question: does this revolution signal the arrival of a new age
of governance for common man in India? The answer will be clear to everyone in a
not so distant future.

Rishi Seth in New Delhi

C-DAC Bags Award for e-Gov Initiatives

The Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) has been adjudged
the ‘best technical company in e-Governance’ in the CSI-Nihilent awards
2003, making it three times in a row.

Earlier, C-DAC had bagged the award for the best website of the Public Works
Department (PWD) of the government of Maharashtra and best revenue system stamp
and registration with information technology application (Sarita) with the
government of Maharashtra. The thrust of C-DAC’s efforts in the area of
e-Governance had resulted in improved transparency, speedy information
dissemination and higher administrative efficiency and improved public services
in sectors including transportation, education, power, health, water, security
and state administration and municipal services.

It is also credited with developing systems for land management and GIS
planning, municipal corporations, election commission, stamps and registration,
public works department, state legislative assembly, electronic commerce and
other similar systems for various government departments and organizations.

Palakkad is the First One

The collectorate of Palakkad, a town in Kerala, is set to become country’s
first totally computerized collectorate under the Modernizing Government
Program. The project is being implemented by NIC under the ministry of IT.

The District Collector, Sanjeev Kaushik, said that the project named
DC@Suite, envisaged an integrated set of applications covering all areas of work
in the collectorate, from work-flow based file management and revenue recovery
to public grievance redressal. Kaushik said the staff of 13 sections and 11
nodal officers would be provided with modern e-management facilities. The
collectorate would have a full-fledged data center with its own dedicated web,
database and mail servers. On completion of the project a number of citizen
services like file status enquiry, application procedures, online applications
and status of applications and final intimations could be offered to citizens,
the collector said.

New Delhi”s Municipal corporation Goes e-Way

The municipal corporation of Delhi has decided to take a step further its
efforts in adopting e-governance in totality. The corporation will soon be
signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Bangalore-based firm,
E-Governance Foundation. E-Governance Foundation has already assisted civic
agencies in Bangalore in streamlining their functions and introducing
e-governance on a major scale.

Announcing the decision, Municipal Corporation of Delhi Commissioner Rakesh
Mehta said: ‘‘E-Governance will primarily help us in the areas of networking
between the departments.’’ One of the major projects that will be undertaken
will be that of putting all of corporation’s data online.

While ICICI Infosys has been helping the corporation in its IT projects, the
services including “the technology and the assistance that E-Governance
Foundation will provide us will be free,” said Mehta. “If the
Corporation was to hire Microsoft, Sun Microsystems or any other software firm
to assist in networking, then it would have cost us 2-3 million.’’

One of the main reasons for inefficiency as well as corruption in the
municipal departments has been the lack of adequate flow of information between
departments, admits Mehta. ‘‘There is no interaction between the
departments. For instance, if the building department were to sanction a plan in
the capital, the property tax department would not be informed.’’

E-Governance Foundation will also create a common database for the MCD. Mehta
said the project would also make a difference to the education and health
departments.

e-Patrak in Gujarat

NIC Gujarat has developed a generic web-based software to create and operate
any standardized reporting statement in the government departments. The software
can dynamically generate different types of reports at all levels of the
government.

The typical flow of information in government is from village to taluka and
to district, and finally to state. Sending reports to higher authority and
compilation of the reports’ data at different levels for decision-making and
future planning is one of the major exercises at government offices.

So far, separate software systems existed for report generation and data
collection for different offices and there was a lot of redundancy involved to
apply modifications made in these reports from time to time. E-Patrak addresses
all these issues and the software has so far been successfully implemented in
the two departments of rural development and health in the government of
Gujarat.

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