Strengthening ULBs to Empower Citizens: Malay Shrivastava

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Malay Shrivastava, Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department

The Urban Development and Environment Department of Madhya Pradesh is making efforts to ensure low-cost houses for the poor and online services for the citizens at large. With the State’s seven cities poised to become smart cities, the Department is not leaving any stone unturned to make the dream into a reality. The Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, Malay Shrivastava, shares his plans with Vishwas Dass of Elets News Network (ENN)

What kind of IT initiatives have you undertaken to improve citizencentric services?

The Government of Madhya Pradesh has already launched ‘Chief Minister Helpline’ as well as ‘Samadhan’ service online, which cover all the departments. The complaints are lodged online and senior officers of the department concerned take up the complaints lying pending since long. There are four levels — L1, L2 L3 and L4 — comprising senior officials to the lower rung officials for redressal of complaints. They try to complete it within a time frame, and if it is not done, then it is automatically escalated to a higher level.

In order to ensure compliance, Chief Secretary or the Chief Minister, on a monthly basis, selects randomly a few of the complaints and the complainants are called either physically to Bhopal or to the office of the Collector concerned, where the video conferencing facility is available. The Government pays proper attention to redress each and every problem.

What is the extent of IT implementation in the urban local bodies of the State?

There are several IT initiatives for the urban local bodies (ULBs), because they have to work on numerous parameters to keep the city clean and shining, and provide citizen services with accountability. Of late, they have also started keeping the smart city selection criteria in focus while delivering the services. The vision of the government is to ensure and increase ULBs’ interface with the public, whether it is redressal of grievances, generating utility bills or solid waste management. So, there should be a mechanism of mobile application through which citizens are able to communicate with the municipal authorities and offer the resolution through the same channel. It would be done in the coming days to ensure not only promptness in service delivery but also redressal of the citizens’ grievances within fixed timelines.

Although for the smart cities, physical infrastructure like drinking water, sewerage and roads are important, the most important aspect is that the citizens are provided the basic facilities in time — particularly solid waste disposal and potable water…only then the purpose is served in true sense. For example, there is a senior citizen, who wants to have access to a service, like public transportation provided by the local municipal body. If he is able to get all the sought information over telephone/ mobile or on internet, then he can claim that he lives in a truly smart city.

At a time when many governments are shifting from e-governance to m-governance, do you have any plan to launch mobile apps?

Some of our services are already on common portal of MPOnline that has the services related to various departments like Electricity, municipal services and many government schemesrelated forms, but stand-alone systems are already in place. Property tax system is already implemented in some of the ULBs, like Indore and Bhopal, which has resulted in increased compliance as well as revenue.

The vision of the government is to ensure and increase ULBs’ interface with the public, whether it is redressal of grievances, generating utility bills or solid waste management

How do you propose to bring about transparency in the operations of ULBs in the State?

Our effort would be to put as much information as possible, which is related to ULBs, on the portals. The development plan of the local bodies should be available in the public domain, so that citizens in general are aware of what is being planned at what cost and in which part of the city, so as to make it as per the aspirations and requirements of the local people — the actual beneficiaries of such development works. We are planning to put in place a mechanism to ensure that all the 16 municipal corporations develop plans in consultation with the people.

Madhya Pradesh is one of the states, which has got a lot of funding support from the State Government for the infrastructure work, including drinking water supply, sewerage, roads and sanitation campaigns. In fact, our ‘Mukhya Mantri Swacchata Abhiyan’, styled similar to the Centre’s ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, has been juxtaposed with the latter, so that funds from both the Centre and State could be used for the common goal of implementation of cleanliness campaign.

Affordable housing scheme is one of the key factors of the proposed smart cities project. What are your plans to provide low cost houses to urban poor?

We have already moved a proposal to the Cabinet, seeking financial assistance from the State Government for affordable housing scheme. In addition to that, we already have ‘Atal Ashray Scheme’, under which the land is being offered at the rate of `1. Under this scheme, though the government allots the land at concessional rate, the houses would also be covered in either of the schemes that would make the viability better. Besides, the raising of the limit for Economically Weaker Section and Lower Income Group (LIG) houses, which has been made as `3 lakh and `6 lakh, respectively, against the previous `1 lakh and `2 lakh, in consultation with CREDAI, is going to benefit people. The private sector is going to play a very important role. In fact, we have a Vision Document 2018, which envisages development of 5 lakh houses in Madhya Pradesh that will be implemented largely by the private sector.

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