The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), which is responsible for the provision of basic municipal services in Ahmedabad, was established in 1950 and covers 43 wards. It provides services related to water supply, medical services, public transport, and sewerage and storm water drainage, among others. With an aim to streamline services offered by AMC and facilitate convenient redressal of complaints, AMC launched the comprehensive complaint redressal system (CCRS) in July 2013. The system was introduced to address civic issues faced by the city in a more effective and efficient manner. It provides for categorisation of complaints with respect to their nature and the area concerned. This helps AMC in prioritising its focus areas and highlighting manpower and infrastructure shortages to improve the means of services in the future.
The CCRS is a web-based service aimed at enhancing customer service management. AMC has launched the system to ensure comprehensive service management and efficient service delivery. Yatinder Naik, head of department, information technology, AMC, explains, “The system was first launched on a pilot basis in 2009 for the north-west zone and offered citizens options to register complaints related to 34 categories. After successful review of the pilot project, an upgraded version of the system including 204 categories of complaints was launched to cover the entire city of Ahmedabad”. The software for the system has been outsourced from AMC from VBSOFT (India) Limited.
Channels to register complaints
The system provides consumers various options for registering a complaint. A complainant can highlight the issue through a call centre, online, or by personally visiting the ward office. The following are the various channels for registering complaints:
- Website: Citizens can lodge a complaint online related to any municipal service being provided by AMC. They are supposed to use the CCRS-specific website launched by AMC to register a complaint.
- Call centre: AMC has set up a dedicated call centre for people who wish to register their complaints through mobile phones. They can call on a predefined number during stated working hours to raise a complaint. AMC has operationalised 30 lines for the same and provides an option for registering complaints through interactive voice response (IVR) in case the complaint is to be registered during the non-working hours or if they cannot get through to the operators. An alternative is to send a text message in a predefined format to a number assigned by AMC, upon which the complainant gets a designated call back for further details. The complainant can also register multiple complaints through a single call.
- Personal visit: Citizens have the option of registering a complaint at the ward office. They are supposed to provide operators all the necessary details for further processing of complaints. AMC has operationalised 64 ward offices and six zonal offices for the same.
- Email: AMC also provides the option to register complaints through email.
After the successful registration of complaints through any of these methods, the complaint is automatically forwarded to the concerned area officer through an SMS and the complainant receives a complaint acknowledgement number for further follow-up. The officer is assigned a particular time frame for addressing the issue and update the complaint status as closed thereafter. The system sends an automatic informative text to the complainant after the redressal. The complaint is forwarded to a higher authority in case an issue is reopened due to dissatisfaction or it is not addressed and closed within the specified time period.
Advantages of CCRS
The system helps to fast-track the entire process of registering a complaint and redressing it. The biggest advantage is that it does away with the requirement for the physical presence of the complainant at AMC office. So far, 38 per cent of the complaints have been registered through the call centre, website, SMS, and e-mail, which shows the increasing awareness amongst citizens. The system also provides flexibility to register complaints round the clock. The options with complainants to reopen complaints due to their dissatisfaction and to track their complaints throughout the redressal process are other major positives of CCRS. Another key option provided by the system is anonymous reporting of illegal works.
Issues and challenges
The system has also faced some roadblocks in successful provisioning of efficient services to citizens. On several occasions, complainants have received messages stating that the issues have been addressed and the case has been closed, even when the issue is not resolved. In one of the cases, a citizen had lodged a complaint with regard to non-operational street lights in the city’s Maninagar area. A message was sent a few hours after the registration of the complaint that the issue has been resolved, while the lights were still not operational. Citizens have faced similar issues even after reopening complaints. They have also complained about no response on the designated contact number for complaint registration.
“Despite the issues, installation of CCRS has been a major step on the part of AMC in its bid to provide the citizens an accessible and user- friendly complaint system. The five-level system has been designed in a way that complainants can access the concerned officers on their phones in case an issue is not addressed as per their expectations,” says Naik.
The Way forward
The system has so far received 243,000 complaints over a period of eight months, implying an average of 30,375 complaints per month. Considering the fact that Ahmedabad was the first city in Gujarat to implement such a system, awareness amongst citizens has been reasonable. This is likely to increase with time as eight other cities in Gujarat are planning to implement CCRS. “AMC also plans to integrate CCRS with the geographic information system (GIS) at a later stage, which is likely to enhance the technological aspects of the system and allow further efficiency improvements,” says Naik.
Going forward, AMC should address issues related to CCRS so that the civic body is able to provide a streamlined structure for registering complaints to Ahmedabad’s citizens.