To meet the need for an efficient service delivery system, the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) is planning to undertake IT-related initiatives. A recent step in this direction is the adoption of m-governance for establishing a robust and reliable grievance redressal mechanism. As part of this initiative, the civic authority has launched a mobile application – the Apna Patna app. With this application, the state capital has joined the league of several other cities, including Delhi (Swachh Delhi) and Bhubaneswar (My City My Pride), which have applications for civic services.
Prior to the launch of the application, reporting any civic problem in Patna was a tedious task for citizens. To address this problem and promote e-governance in the city, the Urban Development and Housing Department (UDHD) of Bihar inaugurated the Apna Patna app on December 18, 2015. People living in the Patna Municipal Corporation area can now register their grievances related to garbage, drainage, streetlights, encroachment, dead animals and illegal constructions through this app. At present, the scope of the application is confined to the complaint-lodging facility. Based on the feedback, the corporation will add other services such as payment of municipal taxes at later stages.
The application has been developed by the National Informatics Centre and is available on the Google Play store as well as on PMC’s and UDHD’s websites. It can be downloaded free of cost and is available in both English and Hindi. Currently, the app is available only on Android-based mobile phones, but it will be made available on other mobile operating systems, including iOS (iPhone) and Windows, soon. Once the application is installed, citizens are required to register their name, address and mobile number. Thereafter, each citizen will get access to a personal homepage, which has sections such as my post, my area, in progress, resolved, whistleblower and action hero.
In the “my area” section, citizens can view all the complaints registered in their area. The subheads “in progress” and “resolved” provide information on complaints that are still being processed and on those that have been resolved respectively. A whistleblower is one who registers complaints and an action hero is one who resolves the problems. An action hero could be a city manager, a sanitary inspector, an engineer, a health officer or some other municipal officer. The application also shows how many problems have been resolved by each civic officer.
Citizens can register their complaints through the “my post” link, which opens the complaint description page. The page further provides the option of placing the complaint under a category. There are eight main complaint types – solid waste management, street lights, sewage, drinking water, drainage, encroachment, illegal construction and development works. After choosing one of the available options, the complainant is required to give a detailed description of the problems faced and upload the related picture. The picture has to be geo-tagged and time stamped.
After registering the complaint, the applicant will get updates on the problem through SMS. A unique ticket number is given to the customer, which can be used to track the status of the complaint at any stage of the grievance redressal process. Once the complaint is registered, PMC’s monitoring cell will direct the grievance to the concerned official. The officials of the area are required to provide an update on the progress made in redressing the complaint. Once corrective measures have been taken, the complaint will be transferred to the resolved section. Otherwise, it will remain in the in progress section. The designated official has to solve the problem and upload the geo-tagged photo of the work done within a certain time frame.
Since the initiative is fairly recent, it is yet to show any significant impact on the quality of service delivery. The successful adoption of the application is expected to make officials more accountable and lead to greater transparency in operations. The grievances and work initiated will be reviewed by the department minister every month. Further, the application will save complainants’ time and effort, and help in resolving grievances in a systematic manner. It is also an environment-friendly initiative, since the entire process is paperless. The successful implementation of this application can serve as an example for other local bodies, which can implement similar initiatives in their jurisdiction.