In August 1994, Warangal Municipality was declared a municipal corporation to effectively address the civic needs of citizens in Warangal. The municipal corporation’s role primarily involves the development of better infrastructure facilities for the provision of quality water supply, maintenance of the sewerage system, management of solid waste and rainwater harvesting.
Over the years, the Warangal Municipal Corporation (WMC) has taken several technological initiatives to augment and strengthen its service delivery mechanism and identify areas of improvement. At present, it is focusing on deploying a smart house numbering system to access real-time information about every household. WMC has also implemented various technologies and applications to enhance citizens’ participation in urban governance.
Smart Utilities discusses some of these initiatives and technologies…
Online citizen services
The civic agency has brought about key changes in its management system by re-engineering service delivery at multiple levels. It has introduced an online birth registration and birth certificate issuance system, completely replacing the conventional manual system; an online system for the collection of property and water taxes, saving residents’ time and energy; and a single-window online cell that keeps residents informed about the status of the tap connections. Besides, it has made the issuance of trade licences and collection of trade licence fees online, enabling citizens to access these services through a single window.
Smart GIS database system
To increase the presence of its online services, WMC launched the smart geographic information system (GIS) database system. Under the initiative, the civic agency has mapped the entire city, including the slum areas. The system captures key details of households including the number of family members, occupation, community and household income. The civic agency is planning to use the system to develop four slum areas and transform them into planned structures.
Smart house numbering system
The existing house numbering system in Warangal has several defects. Since the house numbers are not in serial order and are allotted on an ad hoc basis, it is difficult to locate a house. The block and street numbers are also not clearly defined. As a result of the inaccurate house numbering, unidentified plots, etc., sev-eral discrepancies were found during the tax assessment and collection process.
To weed out these discrepancies, the civic agency will introduce a smart house numbering system to improve civic service delivery. The objective is to update the database pertaining to localities/blocks by including all houses in the purview of the civic agency that were left out previously or were unidentified. The city will be divided into localities and main roads with distinct boundaries. In each locality, houses will be numbered in a continuous series and premises along each main road will be numbered in a continuous series separately. Vacant plots will also be numbered and slum areas will be given block numbers based on their structural condition.
Under the new system, all civic services such as property tax assessment and collection, medical facilities, fire services, and provision of water supply and electricity will be integrated with the house numbering system, which will further be integrated with the GIS database. This will enable the civic agency to overhaul its tax assessment and collection system. With this, the number of houses being covered under the tax net is bound to increase.
Building permission software
WMC has also developed a building application software, AutoDCR, to provide building permissions in a timely and efficient manner. This software automatically scrutinises the online building permission application, scans and validates all documents and attachments, uploads the field survey report, and carries out compliance checks with the Development Control Rules and produces a report. Subsequently, a payment notification is sent to the citizen/architect and post payment realisation, a final approval certificate is issued to the citizen/architect. In case of any deviation, a feedback/rejection notice is sent to the concerned citizen/architect. To facilitate usage, the civic agency has introduced single- window clearance and single-payment gateway systems for the software.
WMC is also planning to integrate the process of issuing occupancy certificates for new structures with the smart house numbering system. These certificates will be the basis for property tax assessment. All information related to the measurement of floors, status of building application, type of occupancy (domestic, commercial, industrial, etc.) will be provided online through this system.
Some of the major advantages of the automated building permission software are as follows:
- Online submission of proposal and proposal status tracking.
- Anywhere and any time accessibility.
- Elimination of human errors.
- Simplification of procedures and processes.
- Alerts through SMS and email.
- Online availability of information regarding approved proposals.
- Complex by-laws automatically scrutinised.
- Accuracy in area and fee calculations.
- Generation of management on a timely basis information system reports and evaluation of workforce efficiency.
- Efficient storage and archiving of all digitised data records.
- Escalation of alerts on unnecessary delays.
- Faster approval as each process has a fixed time limit.
IT in solid waste management
WMC has launched an interactive voice response (IVR) system to improve its solid waste management activities. The system makes random calls to four citizens in a street between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. every day to check the status of garbage collection. The IVR system provides two options to citizens – garbage collected and garbage not collected. This enables the civic agency to monitor the performance of the door-to-door waste collection system. Besides, WMC has introduced the biometric system for public health workers in order to monitor their attendance. With this, instances of fake attendance have reduced significantly across the corporation area, resulting in savings of Rs 530,315 per month for the corporation.
To promote transparency in its operations, WMC has installed vehicle tracking devices in all public health vehicles to monitor their movement. With the implementation of this system, staff accountability has increased and the consumption of diesel has reduced by Rs 188,000 per month on an average. Besides, the average movement of vehicles has increased by about 30 per cent.
Overall, WMC has made considerable progress with regard to the implementation of IT initiatives in Warangal. These measures have enabled a greater degree of efficiency and transparency in service delivery.
Based on a presentation by G.S. Panda Das, IAS, Former Commissioner, WMC, at a recent Indian Infrastructure conference