The largest municipal corporation in the country, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), has been at the forefront of deploying IT initiatives to provide better services to citizens. Over the years, it has introduced online payment of bills and taxes, and a single online window for clearances and grievance redressal, among other measures to bring in more transparency and accountability in its operations.
In 2007, the utility launched a citizen portal, one of the most ambitious e-governance projects in India. The portal, developed by a consortium of SAP Software Solution and ABM Knowledge Limited, covers most of the civic body’s core functions. It has helped in increasing MCGM’s operational efficiency and facilitated government-to-citizen and government-to-business interactions. In 2014, the civic body launched its mobile application, MCGM 24×7, for making a seamless transition to mobile governance.
These initiatives have helped in better revenue mobilisation and improvement of citizen services. According to the civic body, citizens’ use of online service for obtaining certificates, licences, etc. increased from 74,511 in 2016-17 to 0.41 million in 2017-18. Revenue collection through online services also increased from Rs 80 million in 2016-17 to Rs 3.53 billion in 2017-18. Some of the initiatives taken by MCGM in its digital journey are discussed below.
Key IT initiatives
Online payment of bills and taxes
The civic body’s web portal and mobile app enable residents to pay their water bills online. The MCGM is also introducing changes to its water billing software to make it more user friendly. The upgraded version will digitally calculate the water consumption and allow civic officials to take on-the-spot readings. It will make the billing process more transparent by allowing the citizens to verify the reading before the bill is generated. This will help in avoiding problems related to incorrect or inflated bills. Under the old system, citizens could challenge the bill amount only after a bill was generated, following which the dispute was resolved by the MCGM’s grievance redressal cell leading to delays.
MCGM is developing another software to calculate property taxes online. The software will generate the bill for each flat instead of the entire society. Currently, there is no mechanism for flat owners to know how their tax is calculated. Individual flat owners pay their property tax bills to their societies, which are handed over to the corporation. In many cases, if a builder or a few flat owners fail to pay their property tax on time, the entire society is sealed. This software will help in identifying individual defaulters.
Issuance of licences and certificates
For ease of doing business, MCGM has started an online single-window system to issue licences for new businesses and factories. All new business permissions will be given through the online portal and MCGM will stop accepting physical applications. The window will provide licences for shops, health, trade, neon signboards as well as factory permits. A no-objection certificate (NOC) from the fire department has also been included in this list. The applicants will not have to interact with officials from different departments, which will reduce corruption.
The real-time interactive online module will allow applicants to upload scanned documents that need to be submitted along with the application form, remarks from the concerned departments, online payment of fees and intimation of application status. A one-time password facility will also be introduced to avoid misuse of the facility. The corporation has also shifted the process of transfer of tenancy rights online. The process will now have to be completed within 33 days.
MCGM provides various other online services such as birth and death certificates and marriage registration. It has helped in speeding up processes.
Building plans and permits
The corporation is developing software to review building plans as per old and new development control regulations. The software will scrutinise plans of the proposed buildings through 3D-Building Information Module before giving approval. Architects will have to submit building proposals online with a digital signature. This is the first time that buildings in Mumbai will be checked for compliance on all three dimensions.
Further, the civic body plans to include NOCs for construction from various departments in the online application. This will reduce the interaction between the public and officials, and expedite the process by at least a month. Developers will no longer have to get special NOCs from traffic, water and sewerage departments to install amenities in a new building. The permits along with the NOC will be generated at the beginning of the process so that developers do not have to approach the department again.
The completion certificates are also generated online. Under the current system, after a building is constructed, the builder has to apply to the respective ward office for water and sewerage line connections for final completion certificates. Now, the application can be submitted online on the MCGM portal. After the application is submitted, an alert is sent to the respective ward office and a common site visit by all concerned departments is arranged through system-generated date, which is communicated to the builder by email or SMS. The civic body has to grant the completion certificate within seven working days of receiving the application.
Vehicle tracking system
MCGM has made it mandatory to install the vehicle tracking monitoring system in municipal and private vehicles used to provide various civic services. These vehicles will be monitored in a central control room set up by the corporation. The vehicles include water tankers, garbage compactors, vehicles carrying construction debris or silt, and sewage vehicles. The real-time tracking of the vehicles will help the civic body in reducing malpractices.
MCGM has a grievance cell where citizens can lodge their complaints through the mobile app. Citizens can also check the status of their complaints on the app. Residents can directly complain on the Twitter handle of the corporation. The Twitter handle will help disseminate information and redress various complaints, mainly regarding open potholes and water contaminations, especially during the monsoon.
MCGM has implemented various innovative measures in the city using geographic information system (GIS) technology. The civic body has launched a portal called MCGM GIS, which will give an overall geographical view of the city on a map and allow users to check plot reservations, and progress of road works and pipelines passing through a particular area. Developers can also access information about the existing pipeline networks to avoid damages. GIS technology helps find the exact location of faults in the pipes, and is thus used to detect leakages.
The corporation also plans to launch an app that will allow citizens to book parking spaces in the city. MCGM is collating data on parking lots in all the 24 wards of the city. The data collected will be made available on the app to give a live picture of parking spaces, available ward-wise. The app will allow users to search for available parking slots and book them in advance for an hour or more. The charges can be paid online and residents will have to show the e-invoice to get the reserved parking space.
The IT measures taken by MCGM have helped the corporation increase the efficiency of its services and improve the quality of life for citizens in the city. However, the civic body needs to overcome various challenges. The issue of provision of fake certificates obtained through forged documents needs to be addressed. A mechanism should be developed for proper verification of details and documents submitted. Also, the time taken to address the complaints needs to be reduced. Collecting feedback from citizens will help the corporation in further improving its services.