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Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has adopted e-governance
to manage its ever-increasing workload and provide hassle-free
civic administration. And the ward citizens have been happier
ever since. by Soutiman Das Gupta & Minu Sirsalewala
heard a lot about e-governance and its promise to change the
way a government functions. Many of us were skeptical and
felt that an Indian Government organization would not be very
successful in adopting IT. And some had dismissed the very
idea of e-governance being successful in India and labeled
it a distant dream. But e-governance is for real, and right
there in Maharashtra. The BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation)
has undergone a revolutionary change by e-enabling its facilities
in a significant step towards effective e-governance.
BMC has been in existence for over 100 years and its departments
are spread over six administrative zones at 24 wards in Mumbai.
IT infrastructure implementation in BMC has been carried out
in controlled phases over the last five years. In the first
phase of IT implementation, the corporation computerized its
backend operations at various wards. These applications however
were not visible at the front-end and citizens did not experience
the speed and efficiency they provided. There was a need to
get these applications to the front so that citizens from
a particular ward could avail of BMC's services in an efficient
and friendly environment.
This is when ABM Knowledgeware Limited, a solution provider,
stepped in and helped BMC move into its second phase of IT
implementation. In the second phase, BMC implemented e-governance
as a pilot project at its northernmost ward at Dahisar. Pleased
with the success of their pilot venture, BMC has started replicating
the project in the other 23 wards of the city.
BMC plays the basic role of providing administration and governance
to the citizens of Mumbai. It administers an area of over
437.71 square km and caters to the civic needs of over 10
million citizens. It employs about 149,471 employees in the
different categories with a budgetary outlay of Rs 4391.15
crores. It performs functions like birth and death registration,
water billing, accounting, and slums, shops & establishment
registration. Now that's a mammoth task indeed!
R.A. Rajeev, Joint Municipal Commissioner said, "the
prime reason for the need of e-governance was the enormous
volume of administrative jobs at every ward. Another reason
is to provide transparency in the administrative activities.
Since BMC's main objective is to provide civic administrative
services to citizens, there has to be transparency and quick
response to the citizens needs."
BMC felt that its services and activities should have a few
key attributes. And it introduced these attributes for better
administration in the form of an acronym SMART (Simple, Mobile,
Attitude, Responsive, and Transparent).
Simple - BMC's activities should be simple and not complex
like it was before implementing e-governance. BMC exists to
facilitate services to the citizens and not to complicate
matters. It is thus important to process the services in a
Mobile - There should be mobility and flexibility in operations.
For example, if you need a certificate for any land you own,
you have to go to the ward office of the area where the land
is located. Here you have to contact the officer and process
your application. You do not have the flexibility to apply
for the certificate in any other ward. There should be mobility
to carry out the process anywhere.
Attitude - The attitude of the staff at the offices is usually
negative. The attitude should be eager, helpful, and not slack.
Response - There should be prompt response and execution of
services and applications.
Transparency - Since the corporation is answerable to the
citizens, its activities should be transparent.
Now that the ideal services were laid down in the SMART guidelines,
it was time for IT to move in. With the help of intelligent
software applications and minimum hardware installation, BMC
set about to provide good e-governance to the citizens of
A BMC ward office typically has around 19 sections which are
classified into three broad segments. They are: citizen-oriented
services which include health services, licensing services,
and property tax; engineering services which cover maintenance
of roads and bridges; and administrative services within the
BMC concentrated on the segment that deals with citizen-oriented
services to trigger off the first phase of IT implementation.
These services were computerized over the last five years.
During this time, the corporation established, stabilized,
and institutionalized itself and created large databases.
This provided BMC the required impetus and muscle to embark
upon its aim of citizen centric e-governance. The other segments
were IT-enabled soon. Computer applications were deployed
at the front-end to provide efficient and fast services.
In the second phase, the solutions were devised to support
front-end applications. A CFC (Citizens Facilitation Centre)
was conceptualized and implemented as a part of the pilot
project. The objective of CFC is to deliver time bound services.
Each ward aims to have a computerized single window facilitation
center for rendering various citizen services. This can provide
governance in a phased manner, which offers more convenience
and speed. The first CFC was set up at Dahisar in the northernmost
suburb of Mumbai. It has six cash counters, two help desks,
a complaints desk, a registry counter, and a delivery counter.
Hareshwar Patil, the Mayor of Mumbai said, "I am sure
that by using the CFC, BMC will provide prompt and efficient
services and become even more people-friendly. The elected
representatives and the employees should dedicate themselves
to work for extending better services".
A network of bilingual touch-screen kiosks has been set up
in parts of the city as a part of the e-governance project.
This enables citizens to submit applications and complaints,
check the status of their letters, and receive vital and useful
information related to BMC. The kiosks are connected over
leased line links to a router. This in turn is connected to
Web and application servers.
Every ward of the BMC has departmental LANs with desktop PCs
and servers covering 25 nodes. A server room has a central
server which runs the e-governance applications. The LANs
use 10/100 Mbps Ethernet and is capable of supporting 100
nodes. Some of the applications are distributed to facilitate
distributed intelligence. The NOS (Network Operating System)
is Windows NT. The servers at the wards are from multiple
vendors and have different configurations. CMC has been chosen
as the network consultant.
ABM Knowledgeware Limited's core objective was to provide
a solution which is citizen-centric and has adequate frontend
operations support. ABM designed a one-stop computerization
application delivery process for the entire ward office which
offers all civic services and information under a single roof.
The governing applications are customized for BMC and supported
by other application packages like MaiNet and MOIS 2000. MaiNet
allows easy accessibility of information, like birth and death
registration, water billing, accounting, and shops & establishments
registration. And MOIS 2000 allows easy handling and tracking
of letters and files.
Treading a smooth path
ABM did not have to face too many technological problems in
implementing the e-governance applications. The only technological
issue was to integrate the legacy back end applications with
the new front-end applications. The software systems were
put into place without any service blackouts. "The backend
operations integration could have been a bit better. Currently
if a revenue transaction is entered into the system, it is
not automatically updated in every journal, ledger, or book
of accounts. It has to be done separately", said
ABM had to conduct a series of workshops for the BMC staff,
counselors, and the top-level management. The workshops provided
application training, personality development, and development
of communication skills among the staff. Fortunately, the
BMC staff has been very open to the idea of computerization.
e-governance implementation has allowed us to streamline our
activities and services, and offer our staff a better work
environment. Data mining and maintenance have become easier.
One does not have to go through numerous large files for days
on end to retrieve a single document. The citizen has the
option of getting information using the kiosks. Since people
do not have to face time-consuming procedures, there has been
a rise in tax revenue collection as well"' said Rajeev
Further down the e-road
With the successful pilot project of e-governance at the Dahisar
ward, BMC is set to provide services by replicating the project
at the remaining 23 wards in the city. The citizens of Mumbai
can definitely look forward to shorter queues, quicker response,
and warm, amicable, and efficient services provided over the
counter. BMC has spent one Crore Rupees on the entire e-governance
implementation exercise. It certainly hopes to break its typecast
image and provide the citizens a government they can talk
future, BMC hopes to WAN-enable all ward offices. We will
offer data concerning birth and death registration, taxes,
licenses, status of applications, and status of complaint
online. We hope to e-govern the Octroi department and monitor
check post activities from the main office. The entire project
involving all the ward offices is expected to be implemented
and operational in the next 8 months", said Rajeev.
Issue of certificates and licenses
Collection of payments
Dynamic information about status of applications
Supply of blank application forms
Online computerized acknowledgement for all letters
Printed complaint token numbers from kiosks
Dual screen facility at help desks
Grievances redressal functions
Appeals for help
Programmes/events detail for socially relevant activities
Information of important useful institutions and organizations
in the ward
Felicitation of achievers and eminent persons residing in
Electronic submission of applications
New shops and establishments license
administers an area of over 437.71 square Km and caters to
the civic needs of over 10 million citizens. It employs about
149,471 employees in the different categories and has a budgetary
outlay of Rs.4391.15 Crores.
BMC's 24 wards had to provide its citizens faster, less complicated,
and friendlier services. It had to make a strategy for better
ABM Knowledgeware provided the software application tools
to enable e-governance. It introduced a concepts called CFC
and will help setup help kiosks in places around the city.
Certificates and registrations are handled over the counter.
The time to process applications has decreased dramatically,
and grievances can be lodged and addressed quickly.
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