E-Governance in the Streets of Pune

By Arunav Chowdhury

Pune is an important metropolitan centre in Maharashtra and also an IT and education hub with a population of more than five million. Administering a city of this size is a herculean task and it becomes imperative that information is made available to people at their fingertips and governance is made more accessible.

There is an urgent need in delivering governance through modern methods and processes. Electronic governance or e-governance is the application of information and communication technology (ICT) for delivering government services, exchange of information, communication transactions, integration of various stand-alone systems and services between government-to-customer (G2C), government-to-business (G2B), government-to-government (G2G) as well as back office processes and interactions within the entire government framework. (Saugata, 2007).

Given the trend of digitisation and the Government’s policy of Digital India, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has also taken a slew of initiatives in that direction although E-governance in the city is not new. Here are a few of them:

 

CIVIC COMPLAINTS VIA WHATSAPP Citizens are now able to register their civic-related complaints just by sending SMSes to their local ward officer, ward medical officer, medical inspector, deputy city engineers or junior engineers.

Complaints pertaining to problems like irregular water supply, breach in pipelines, potholes, broken footpaths, uneven lids on manholes, garbage clearance, illegal hawkers, cleanliness of public areas and street lights can be made by citizens.

COMPLAINTS WEBSITE Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has tied up with the Citizen Empowerment Forum to register their complaint through the Internet.

The system enables the citizens to file their complaint online and the complainant can check the status of the complaint on the net.

PMC CARE An app for complaints, to share information and get ‘live’ updates from the corporation. 
DIGITAL LITERACY E-governance training programmes to meet the needs of PMC employees by training them on conceptual and practical aspects of Information and Communication Technology.
TRAFFICOP The programme consists of a software application that runs on mobile devices linked to a server that stores all customised vehicle and license holder data. When the traffic officer logs into his/her device, he/she can enter the vehicle and license details of the offender and will automatically obtain a record of the offenders’ past history.
BUDDYCOP Buddy Cop is a WhatsApp group administered by a police officer where working women, especially in IT and banking sector, join to ensure they have immediate access to the police in a dire situation.
E-CHALLANS Around 1250-odd CCTV cameras are installed across the city, of which more than 200 have the options to tilt,pan and zoom. These cameras provide live feed to the main police control room. A screen-grab of a violation is culled from this footage as photographic evidence.
The offender is then sent a text message with the E-Challan. The city police have also introduced swipe machines to enable the offender to pay through cards.
SOCIAL MEDIA The city police has an active Facebook and Twitter Page.
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Image link – http://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/how-much-does-pune-municipal-corporation-care/story-M3AoTO8y5iqV95Ls2tl63M.html

Regarding civic complaints and grievance redressal issues, people complain that the PMC has a poor track record on grievances.  Currently, the PMC runs six different helplines, each one addressing a different issue. While the garden department started helplines to register tree cutting, tree falling and the rescue of injured or trapped animals, the garbage department started a helpline to alert authorities towards locations where garbage hasn’t been cleared. The citizens say that registering a complaint is not the issue, but the fact that there is no follow up from the officials makes the umpteen number of helplines a futile exercise.

With regards to the E-challans, the Pune Traffic Police have been unable to recover fines amounting to whopping Rs 13 crore from traffic rule violators over the past six months although it has been able to issue e-challans swiftly.

While e-challans are being issued swiftly, there is no mechanism as yet to recover the fine amount from offenders. Through the CCTV-based ‘third-eye’ system, the unpaid dues have reached Rs 7,49,07,400, while the unpaid dues through cases filed by traffic personnel on the streets is Rs 5,77,55,708. Which mean, collectively, the traffic rule violators of Pune owe the traffic police Rs 13,26,63,108 in fine.

If a violator fails to respond to the notice, a court case will be filed and the procedure will be initiated. Therefore, not only does the new system promise increased strain on the judiciary, its introduction has failed to ensure traffic discipline or regulation of numbers of traffic rule violations in the city.

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The Winter Institute is a full-fledged 3 credit Course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies conducted in the first year. It is conceived as a platform for interdisciplinary collaborative learning through research and action in the field. The blog series showcases the work, reflections and opinions of the students, and not the Centre.

To see institute reports from previous batches visit our website: http://urk.tiss.edu/winter-institute.html

 

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