The Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) has been a frontrunner in introducing e-governance initiatives as part of its efforts to improve customer satisfaction, and provide a hassle-free and user-friendly interface between citizens and the civic agency. In the past decade or so, the corporation has implemented various e-governance modules to improve the provision of civic services.
CCMC’s e-governance system was launched in 2005 and covers all five zones and 100 wards of the city. The system provides services such as the registration of births and deaths, and the issuance of certificates; online collection of property tax and water charges through a payment gateway; electronic grievance handling; e-auctioning and e-tendering; online waste truck monitoring via radio frequency identification technology; automatic development control regulation; and a building plan approval and management system. Further, CCMC has developed software for asset management, a financial accounting system and a unified communication system, etc. for offering multiple interaction points to citizens. These initiatives are aimed at providing citizen-centric services through the effective use of information and communication technology.
Besides providing online services, the corporation has also introduced SMS-based services for citizens who do not have access to the internet. The services provided by the civic agency include reminders and confirmation for bill payment such as property tax; registration of complaints and grievances; public health and awareness messages; and alerts for CCMC staff on interdepartmental updates, meetings and other critical issues.
Currently, CCMC is developing a web-based
application process for issuing new water connections. So far, citizens had to visit the concerned zonal office to submit application forms. The applications were often moved from one department to another and citizens had no means to track their status. Moreover, the process lacked transparency, often leading to customer dissatisfaction. Therefore, in January 2014, the civic agency stopped accepting new applications for water connections and decided to develop an online system for submitting and processing applications to obtain new water connections.
The online system was partially launched in August 2014. At present, residents can access CCMC’s web portal for tracking the status of their water connection applications and seek information about the plumber assigned for their work, along with his contact details. The system is expected to be made fully operational by end-2014. Under the system, citizens will be able to register for new connections by logging on to CCMC’s web portal. Once the application along with the electronic copies of the requisite documents is submitted, the portal will generate an e-receipt and send emails to the applicants. Further, automatic SMS alerts will be sent to the applicants on their registered mobile numbers. These alerts provide updates along each step of the application process, such as inspection data, assignment of plumber and date of work.
To familiarise citizens with the new process, CCMC has displayed a specimen application on its website. The entire system, including the status of applications, will be monitored by the commissioner and the deputy commissioner to ensure that officers act in a time-bound manner and customer inconvenience is minimised.
CCMC’s e-governance initiatives have won two national awards at the Seventh National e-Governance Conference organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances of the central government. It also won four awards at the Janaagraha Urban G2C Awards, 2012, which included awards for the best G2C website and best user experience. In addition to making the application process more transparent and improving the service delivery mechanism, the web-based application is expected to improve revenues for CCMC and facilitate better contract management. It will also serve as an example for other urban local bodies to implement similar projects in areas under their jurisdiction.