Established in 1882, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) is one of the largest civic agencies in India. The corporation has been at the forefront in adopting e-governance initiatives for ensuring better coordination across different departments, increasing transparency and encouraging citizen participation. The services rendered by the corporation include the online provision of birth and death certificates, and registration of complaints.
Recently, MCGM has taken another key initiative to provide a gateway to its consumers for making online payments for civic services. In August 2014, the corporation launched a mobile application, MCGM 24×7, to enable citizens to pay their dues online. The move was aimed at increasing the convenience of consumers. Earlier, they had to stand in long queues at citizen facilitation centres, which was both time and money consuming.
The application is a part of the Indian government’s project, Mobile Seva, which was launched by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology in January 2012. The project aims at the development and provision of mobile-based applications for the use of the government and citizens. MCGM 24×7 covers over 1,000 government departments and agencies across the country.
MCGM has developed the application with the help of Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL). The integration of C-DAC’s platform with the payment gateway of NSDL facilitates the payment of dues.
There are various modes of payment available for consumers. These are:
- Net banking: Consumers can make use of net banking to make payments. However, its use entails a fee of Rs 5 to be paid to the civic agency for transaction amounts limited to Rs 500, and Rs 10 for bills exceeding Rs 500.
- Debit cards: Debit cards offer another alternative for citizens. The associated charges to be paid to MCGM for the use of debit cards are 0.75 per cent of the transaction amount for value up to Rs 2,000 and 1 per cent of the amount for bills in excess of Rs 2,000.
- Credit cards: Citizens also have an option to pay for the services by using their credit cards. Such payments entail 1 per cent charge on the total bill to be paid to MCGM, irrespective of the range of the total bill.
- Immediate payment service (IMPS): Payments can also be made through IMPS gateways. The use of IMPS involves a payment of Rs 5, Rs 7, Rs 8 and Rs 9 for clearing bills up to Rs 5,000, Rs 25,000, Rs 50,000 and Rs 100,000 respectively.
Currently, the application provides for the payment of water bills only. Going forward, the corporation aims at widening the scope of the application and extending the facility for the payment of other municipal services including property tax bills, and renewal of permits for shops, establishments, and factories. In addition, MCGM intends to provide a grievance redressal platform for citizens (for any problem related to services offered by the corporation) on this application, which is likely to come into effect from November 2014.
Globally, the application’s use for providing civic services has exhibited positive results. For instance, Arlington Water Utilities in the US extends a hassle-free payment platform to the citizens for the use of water utility services. The decision was made on the back of a significant increase in the number of payments through the automated payment system. It has resulted in improved service delivery to citizens and increased customer satisfaction due to savings in time. In India, the Rajkot Municipal Corporation has also successfully managed to integrate and extend a number of civic services through its m-governance system.
To conclude, MCGM’s initiative will lead to transparency in the corporation’s operations and will encourage other civic agencies to adopt similar measures. Going forward, the focus on such initiatives is bound to increase as the central government has clearly emphasised digital mapping and m-governance. This will bring much-needed transparency and accountability into the sector.