Bengaluru boasts of IT Tag, but its e-services lag
Bigger city municipal corporations like Delhi and Hyderabad and even smaller ones like Madurai, Coimbatore and Surat are coming up with innovative e-initiatives to simplify citizen services. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has its own share of initiatives but none that would stand out in the competition.
The BBMP website shows 12 online services offered to citizens: property tax, GISenabled property tax information system, khata certificate, trade licence, building plan approval, birth certificate, tree cutting, death certificate, online booking of electric crematorium, road cutting for citizens, advertisement tax payment and bulk waste generator application form.
Most of these e-services are available in other cities as well. Worse, able in other cities as well. Worse, BBMP’s services are often criticised for their glitches. The online property tax payment system faces issues every year and so does the advertisement tax payment system and road cutting request system.
Prof Gopal Naik, head of Centre for Excellence in Urban Governance at the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru, sees a lack of zeal among civic authorities to improvise on and sustain e-initiatives as the main reason for the BBMP to lag behind in ITbased services. “Some initiatives have been taken up but the challenge is to sustain the initiatives and regularly improvise on them,” he said.
The property tax payment system is a case in point, Naik notes. “The BBMP started the online property tax payment system much before other cities. It has been there for almost a decade. But the issue is with continuity and improvement. Also, its online services depend on individuals and are not institutionalised.If the person who has developed it moves on, initiatives fall apart,” the professor observed. He also pointed out that the BBMP’s e-initiatives fall short because of not reaching people.
However, those who handle BBMP’s IT system claim that all possible services are available online. “Property tax system and road-cutting are innovative and widely-used services,” said BBMP’s IT advisor T Sheshadri.
Why not compete for Digital India Awards, then? He said the BBMP believes in work and not awards. It also lacks the bandwidth to document its own initiatives and achievements, he said. “We have got some international recognition for our road-cutting and property tax online services. The Union government is replicating our model of health portal for the National Urban Health Mission.”
`No Application from Bengaluru’
“We did not receive any application from Bengaluru when we invited applications for best e-initiatives.ULBs like Madurai, Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam and Surat had some really interesting case studies with the potential to make services easily accessible to citizens. IIT Delhi set the criteria for all eight categories of awards and selected the winners. We will invite application for the second award in the next three months,” said Lokesh Joshi, scientific officer, National Informatics Centre, New Delhi