Mumbai: BMC has been fast asleep on its 24x7 helpline app

BMC had launched its 24x7 mobile app in July 2014, but it still lacks a complaint lodging facility

A year and a half after it was launched, the BMC's 'MCGM 24x7' mobile application still does not have the much-touted complaint lodging facility. The mobile application was launched in July 2014 wherein users were supposed to be able to pay municipal bills, taxes, renew licences and file complaints. When the app was launched, it was said that the facility to lodge complaints will be made available by December 2014, but it still hasn't seen the light of day.

The home page of the app has a facility for complaints. (Right) But this is the result you get on pressing the ‘complaints’ tab
The home page of the app has a facility for complaints. (Right) But this is the result you get on pressing the 'complaints' tab

In a bid to change with time and make facilities available to citizens at a click, the BMC had launched the MCGM 24x7 mobile application last year. The application was to allow citizens to avail of certain facilities without having to go to the ward office or any facilitation centre. The facilities to be provided included payment of water bills, property tax and renewal of licences. Besides, it was also supposed to have a fourth section to submit grievances or complaints. Although at the time of the launch only the first facility was available, then Mayor Sunil Prabhu had assured citizens that the rest will be made operational soon.

BMC's apathy
"I remember using the app back then which said that the complaints tab will be made operational by December 2014. Then they removed that line. Now it only says 'to be launched soon.' It's almost as if the BMC wants us to pay money on time but doesn't want to hear our complaints," said Sharique Raza Shaikh, an activist from Malad.

According to RTI applications made by Shaikh, the app was developed by the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and its Complaints section was supposed to go live by July 2015. That has not happened in this case. Besides, Shaikh had also asked the civic body for copies of the agreement signed between it and C-DAC but in one reply he was told that the agreement was with the municipal secretary while the next time he was told that no such agreement was signed. Both the RTI queries were answered by the BMC's IT department.

Meanwhile, the app has got a number of negative reviews on Google Playstore but an average rating of 3.5. One of the users who had given it a 'one star' rating on Playstore wrote: "When I attempted to pay the water bill, the amount is deducted but at the end of the transaction it shows an error. Now what to do?? This has already happened with me twice or thrice… And on the website the complaint option is not available. We are using this app for saving time but it has given lot of headache. But don't have other choice because MCGM is not upgrading their website."

Another wrote: "complaints tab says "coming soon"... hope to see that tab activated... post which we can flood with complaints" He had given it a 'two-star' rating.

BMC says
Denis Fernandes, senior system analyst at BMC's IT department told mid-day, "It is true that we had planned to make the complaints section functional immediately. But later, our priorities changed. We wanted to focus on the other three services which had the maximum user response and demand. So we decided to roll them out first in English as well as Marathi. That took some time. But now the software development of the complaints section is done. It will go through a testing and security audit stage and should go live in a month or so."

Why was the app launched?
The application was to allow citizens to avail of certain facilities without having to go to the ward office or any facilitation centre. The facilities to be provided included payment of water bills, property tax and renewal of licences.

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