Delhi Municipal Corporation’s egovernance initiatives

When man is the master, and technology the faithful follower at his heels, things get cracking. Witness the Delhi municipal corporation’s initiatives to make tedious chores a pleasure for the city’s residents.

A Government department with 0.04 per cent computer literacy embarks on one of the most ambitious e-governance projects and gives itself just two years to get it off the ground. Even the die-hard IT optimist might think that it’s a joke, but that is exactly what the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is talking about. In less than two years of deciding to implement e-governance applications, MCD has already computerised its engineering department, hospital information system and started computer education in over 1,000 out of the 1,800 odd state government schools under project `Sharda’. Delhi’s citizens can now pay their house tax, apply for licences, book marriage halls and parks, and register births and deaths simply by logging on to the MCD’s Web site or walking into the closest Citizen Service Bureaus, according to the Delhi Municipal Commissioner, Rakesh Mehta. Very soon, several other applications will be rolled out by MCD.

These include an ambitious solid waste management system using trucks fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Information System (GIS) technologies. MCD will be able to accurately track the distance travelled by the trucks, the garbage load collected and thereby make the correct payment to contractors involved in garbage collection. Book your doctor online Another project involves the computerisation and inter-connection of six major state-run hospitals. After the completion of the project, it will be possible for citizens to book operation theatres as well as the services of doctors online. With the interlinking of hospitals, it will also be possible to have an efficient drug inventory management system across hospitals, which wil ensure ready availability of the required drugs, Mehta says. “We adopted a systematic approach when we started two years ago.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) prepared our IT master plan. Now we have engaged ICICI Infotech to help us with the back-end side of implementing the master-plan, while the state-owned Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) and Hyderabad-based Sark Systems India Ltd are responsible for the front-end of the project on a build-own-operate basis,” he says. MCD being the largest municipal body in the world, it required a great will to change the mind-set of its 1.47 lakh workforce. The Corporation hopes that the project will ensure greater transparency and accountability in its functioning. One good thing, according to Mehta, was that there was no handicap of legacy and MCD could start with a completely clean slate. “We are aware of government departments buying computers without clarity on what they will be used for. In our case, we were clear from the outset that computerisation does not simply mean buying hardware.

We have depended on the advice of experts in the step-by-step implementation of the master plan,” says Mehta. ICICI Infotech is involved in building the entire system of collection of property tax, computerisation of six large municipal hospitals and their inter-connection and identifying use of technology to offer more services through the Citizen Service Bureaus. Apart from advising MCD on the technical side, ICICI also helps it in selecting vendors for all these programmes. “We are helping with the selection of a vendor who will set up and run the computer literacy programme at Delhi’s municipal schools. Similarly, we are choosing vendors who will build the software required to maintain the property tax records. We are also involved in the implementation of the IT master plan that involves streamlining the operations of different government departments in a phased manner to ensure transparency and accountability through the use of technology,” says ICICI Infotech’s Executive Director and President, Manoj Kunkalienkar.

ICICI Infotech is helping MCD with the entire business process re-engineering exercise that starts with designing the IT infrastructure, identifying applications and project management. The nearly Rs 60-lakh contract is for two years, after which it could be renewed, Kunkalienkar says. And what happens to the unflattering computer literacy rate of 0.04 per cent among MCD employees? Well, it must have improved significantly as over 5,000 employees have already been trained in the use of IT in the last two years and the MCD is determined to make its entire staff-strength IT-literate in due course.