Service utopia: The Chas Municipality holds out hope for data transparency. Picture by Pankaj Singh
When Chas checkpost resident Shivnath Dutta downloaded a birth certificate form for his 10-day-old grandson on January 24 from the Chas municipality website, he didn’t know he was making online history in Jharkhand.
The municipality of Chas, a satellite town of Bokaro steel city, is the first in the state to go online, promising easy, fast and transparent services — read no bribes — to citizens of this important industrial satellite township.
Inaugurated by Chas municipality chairperson Ganga Bhalotia, her deputy Wahid Khan and ward councillors on January 22, citizens can click on www.chasmunicipalcouncil.com to access a host of civic services at their fingertips.
A spate of public holidays — January 23, 25 and 26, besides as well as January 27 being a Sunday —ensured a low-key launch.
“Over 300 people have downloaded forms but no certificate as yet has been issued online. Work will step up from January 28, the next working day,” said Chas municipality CEO Sandip Kumar.
The service will pick up, hoped Bhalotia.
“This is a memorable day for Chas municipality. The online milestone means that lakhs of Chas residents won’t have to take pains to come to office for small tasks or even to take certificates,” she said.
Dutta, who took out the first form, agreed. “Downloading was fast and easy. It will be of great help for Babu’s school admission,” the doting grandfather said, adding he would submit the form on January 28, the next working day. He added: “It is goodbye to standing in queues.”
So far, Chas municipality office — carved out of Mada two years ago — had witnessed serpentine queues from citizens for all civic requirements. Birth and death certificates, municipality taxes, house maps, tax, water connections, Aadhaar card related work — Chas municipality processes a slew of tasks.
Gradually, these will be done online. “We worked for months to get the municipality online. Applications for all requirements can be downloaded and even taxes can be paid,” CEO Kumar added.
He cited an instance. “If a resident has constructed a house but his municipality tax is unpaid, he can measure his residence and virtually find out how much money he must pay and then do so without coming to office,” Kumar said, adding they would have to popularise the website.
Besides convenience, citizens will also have access to records of beneficiaries of government schemes.
If anyone wants to see how many people have received water connections, birth and death certificates, BPL cards, Rajiv Awas Yojana, RTI forms and other facilities, he can just log on.
Township details, cleaning jobs in various wards and other civic information will also be accessible.
People can even contact senior bureaucrats in case of queries and complaints and apply for jobs online as vacancy updates will be posted.
“Citizens will realise the benefits of the online service soon. I thank Bokaro deputy commissioner Sunil Kumar for encouraging us to complete this coveted project on time,” Kumar said.
For now, most people are sceptical of whether IT hallmarks of speed and efficient will rub off babudom.
R.K. Singh of Kuer Singh Colony, who applied online for details on municipal tax for his house and procedures to get approval of his layout map, said he was counting days.
“Let’s see how much time the online service takes to deliver. Promising schemes are started with big pomp and show, but it does not give wanted results,” Singh said.
Will the Chas e-municipality deliver? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org