Digital Governance

IMC’s tech initiatives for improved service delivery

Indore is the most populated city of Madhya Pradesh with a population of about 2 million (Census 2011). For better and organised governance, the city has been divided into 69 wards and 12 zones. However, providing civic services to such a large consumer base has been a challenge for the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC). Over the years, to enhance its service quality, IMC has undertaken several e-governance initiatives. For instance, the corporation has replaced the conventional payment methods with an advanced online solution for revenue collection with the facility of computerised billing. Besides, other smart governance solutions such as online grievance redressal, GPS-based vehicle tracking system for efficient waste management, and a digital building clearance portal for speedy clearances have been introduced to improve the quality of civic services provided to the residents of Indore.

Key initiatives

Online payment of bills and taxes

The online portal for payment of bill and taxes is one of the key initiatives taken by IMC to improve its revenue collection. Earlier, managing a large customer base and collecting utility charges such as water bills was a cumbersome task. Visiting the customer premises for issuing bills and collecting revenue proved to be tedious. The introduction of the online portal for collecting water bills, garbage collection charges, and payment of residential and commercial property taxes has eased operations for IMC. It enables automatic generation of bills and statements, besides processing payments.

For paying water charges, a customer has to log into their respective accounts by entering either the personal identification number or the service number. The amount due for payment by a customer can also be checked online through this account. Besides, the account provides a complete summary of the bills paid so far and the amount due in case of a default.

The digital portal also provides the option of collecting property taxes from residential owners as well as for commercial spaces. It has a complete record of the properties registered in the name of the owner and their applicable tax rates. These tax rates are based on the zone in which the property exists. The portal also allows the tax payers to fill out a self-assessment form for their property. This enables them to assign a value to their property based on its dimensions, location, built-up area and other key details.

Issuance of certificates

To reduce the count of unregistered births and deaths, IMC has started an online portal for issuing, printing and verifying the status of birth and deaths in the city. An online data entry system of birth and death records has been created and an applicant can visit IMC’s website to fill the application. Similarly, another platform for online registration of marriages and issuance of certificates has been created, which eliminates the need visiting the departments concerned.

Licences

Another e-governance measure taken by IMC is the online facility for issuance of licences such as trade licences.  To run businesses within the city, trade licences can be sought online through the portal. Besides, request for renewal of an existing licence can be made, which will be processed in a time-bound manner.

Grievance redressal

For effective e-governance, IMC launched a 24×7 consumer grievance-tracking and redressal system. This system is available as an online portal and allows residents to submit an application for their grievance. It has a complaint-tracking system to monitor the status of the application using a complaint identification number.

Vehicle tracking and monitoring system for efficient waste management

Timely clearance of secondary collection bins and transportation of waste has been a major issue in Indore as around 750 open garbage dumps are present in the city. To ensure efficient waste management, a GPS-based vehicle tracking and monitoring system (VTMS) was introduced by IMC in March 2017. This information technology-based VTMS system helps monitor garbage vehicle movement on a real-time basis. With this system, the concerned IMC department can track the vehicles from a central command and control centre. The centre uses data feeds for monitoring whether specified garbage transportation routes are being adhered to by garbage vehicles.

Automatic building plan approval system

For smart infrastructure governance, IMC has introduced a digital automatic building plan approval system. The portal is equipped with an automated development-control-regulation system. This system has been updated with the facility of taking digital signatures, and is linked with the town and country planning department, the registrar’s office and 14 other departments including fire and environment to ease the process of approving maps online by IMC. It is aimed at expediting the process of building plan approvals.

All authorised stakeholders including department staff, architects/consultants and building owners can access the portal and seek clearances. The building plans and basic proposal information can be shared over the internet. After studying the plans, the system dynamically generates various scrutiny reports.

Besides these initiatives, IMC has introduced e-newsletters for creating awareness about developments in the city. An e-procurement website has also been launched for companies to participate in the bidding process. For accessing all these services, a resident can visit the corporation’s website or can download a mobile application called One Urban from an Android phone.

Key benefits

The various initiatives taken by IMC to improve the delivery of civic services has immensely benefited not just the corporation, but also the residents. Some of the key benefits are:

  • As against the conventional methods of collecting revenue and taxes, IMC’s online initiative has helped improve revenue collection. Till December 2016, IMC collected Rs 2.14 billion in revenue as against Rs 1.91 billion collected during the same period in 2015-16. This shows a significant jump of 12.04 per cent in revenues during the fiscal 2016-17. Besides, this has pushed for cashless dealing in transactions.
  • The online payment of taxes eliminates the need for a tax payer to physically visit the civic utility. Anyone can pay their dues from anywhere irrespective of their location. This has eased operations for IMC officials and has eliminated the need of carrying documents to the IMC office.
  • Earlier, the majority of the people, after registering the occurrence of births and deaths, did not collect the certificate from the municipality. Now with the online facility, certificates are being issued and printed with ease.
  • The VTMS has enabled real-time monitoring of garbage vehicle movement. This has improved the solid waste-handling process, thereby leading to operational efficiencies.
  • The real estate sector will get the required boost with the digital building plan approval system as it has brought transparency, uniformity, compliance and accountability in the entire process. In addition, the time taken for approval will be significantly reduced.

Conclusion

Although IMC has launched initiatives to improve its revenue collection, certain issues persist, which have resulted in the loss of revenue. The list of defaulters published on the website shows that residents are not making timely payments. To remove such bottlenecks, rules and measures need to be taken. For instance, rewards for advance payments and discounts can be given to residents.

It has also been noted that fake birth and death certificates are being issued. To this end, the corporation can implement controls and determine as to who can access the systems and be responsible for data security. This will help build customer trust in the services being provided by IMC.

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