Karnataka’s housing scheme for economically backward citizens to go mobile

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17-Aug-2016

 

An ambitious government-sponsored housing scheme for economically backward citizens in Karnataka will soon go mobile– making it easier for beneficiaries to apply for a housing grant, monitor progress of construction and talk to government officials.

“When a deserving beneficiary wants to avail the scheme, the person can just click the on the app and get in the queue. Everything will be on one platform,” said Manish Moudgil, the newly appointed Managing Director of the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation (RGRHCL) Ltd.

The RGHRCL is a company set up by the government of Karnataka to help people belonging to economically weaker sections of the society build houses. Under the scheme, applicants are given financial assistance to buy land and build a house.

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The project has been plagued by several administrative and logistical challenges. It often manifests in the form of winding queues in front of the secretariat and bundles of documents being tossed around from one table to the other.

Moudgil wants to make it easier and seamless for applicants.

“One of the things that is not appreciated about technology is its ability to influence the organisation and bring certain things are not possible in a manual process. In few days, the Gram Sabha meetings will be on mobile,” said Moudgil, an IIT-Bombay graduate from the 1998 batch of the Indian Administrative Service.

Many government services such as land registration in Karnataka have already moved online. They use electronic funds transfer to release grants and an online monitoring system has been put in place. By building a mobile app, Moudgil wants to take the services directly to citizens.

Later, Moudgil wants to bring the entire housing department onto a mobile platform and make the office completely paperless. To be sure, the idea of making government offices paperless in Karnataka goes as far back as 2004, when Congress leader S M Krishna was the Chief Minister of the state.

The way Moudgil sees it, the department’s mobile application will bring the entire housing allocation and work order process on a single platform. The gram sabha chairman will be able to manage and operate the whole process on a mobile app.

How does it work?

The app will talk to a central server which has records of deserving beneficiaries. Using Google Earth, the Geolocation of the beneficiary is recorded before the work begins.The data is then tagged to the mobile number of beneficiaries and panchayat department officers. Beneficiaries can click pictures of the work in progress and post it on the app.

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Once the Panchayat chairman approves the application, the beneficiary gets the work order to build the house. RGRHCL provides beneficiaries with assistance like low-cost construction technology, material and training. The beneficiary starts the work and gives photographic evidence of stages of completion to initiate payment.

As the work progresses, it will allow officials to track the stages of completion at real-time and send the information to Zilla Panchayat and the state government. The repository of images and data is saved on the servers.

“It is tough to go visit every location. So this will be a self-service. People will be empowered to monitor progress and will be able to pay themselves” said Moudgil. The app, which will be built by the department’s in-house team, is likely to take around five months to make


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