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Business News/ Companies / Electronic system to ensure timely delivery of services

Electronic system to ensure timely delivery of services

The e-SLA system helps people to track the status of applications through a website by using a unique ID

Rajendra Kumar, secretary, department of information technology, in the Delhi government. Photo: Rituparna Banerjee/MintPremium
Rajendra Kumar, secretary, department of information technology, in the Delhi government. Photo: Rituparna Banerjee/Mint

New Delhi: How many times does a citizen need to visit a government office to obtain a birth or income-tax or caste certificate or any other utility service? To begin with, at least four rounds to the offices—once to submit documents, then to collect the certificate and a couple of visits to follow-up on the progress of the application.

Is there a way this can be cut to just two visits?

The Delhi government enacted a law on the right of a citizen to time-bound delivery of services in 2011 to ensure this. It is now the right of every citizen to demand timely delivery of services. To ensure that every department fulfils its duty towards a citizen, the government introduced an electronic service-level agreement (e-SLA) system. The law provides the legal strength to the monitoring mechanism. This has helped reduce those four rounds to the offices to two.

Government officials are now duty bound to deliver citizen-related services within a specified time. It is the liability of the civil servant to deliver services in time. With the help of the e-SLA system, a citizen can track the status of her application through a website by using a unique application ID provided at the time of submitting an application.

The electronic mechanism has helped the Delhi government empower citizens to avail services in a time-bound manner as a matter of entitlement. It also helped centralize the monitoring system for service delivery. “The e-SLA has helped us in fixing accountability for delay in delivery of services, minimizing human interface by use of ICT (information and communications technologies) and increase efficiency in government," Kumar said.

The e-SLA gets 12,600 requests every day, the transport department getting the maximum. According to official data, other popular departments are the municipal corporation of Delhi, revenue, food and supplies, and electricity. Citizens can access information about 116 public services of 24 departments.

“The most-availed services are the ones which are required on urgent basis," said Kumar. “We are covering 80% of what citizens need." For instance, the status of applications regarding birth certificates, registering the title of a newspaper or journal, income certificate, ration card, change in residential address, community hall bookings, and caste certificates can now be tracked through this.

The e-SLA project is funded by the government. It did not require major investment on its technological components as the project leverages existing infrastructure, Kumar said.

Bureaucratic resistance was one of the few initial problems the government faced. “The other problem was about multiplicity of authorities leading to difficulties in bringing departments on board," said Kumar. “The process of data integration from the localized software to central software and finally, the shortage of officers were other impediments for smooth implementation of the project."

The e-SLA monitoring software is hosted on a government server at The software has been integrated with various departmental databases to get daily data on applications. Details like how many applications were received, disposed and pending are available on this server. The software automatically calculates delays in service provision and the penalty to be paid. This system is regularly monitored by officers to keep track of their departments. The data is updated within the same day of receipt and disposal of an application.

There has been a major reduction in time taken to dispose or process applications, internal assessments suggest. For instance, it used to take 42 days to issue an income certificate in 2010, but now it takes only 9.5 days. Similarly, applications disposed beyond the time limit in the revenue department have come down considerably. In 2010, 47% of the applications were disposed beyond time, but in 2012, only 5% made that list.

The system is not only used by citizens, but officials such as heads of departments and nodal officers as well. The one major drawback is its inability to be updated on a real-time basis. Currently, it is updated once in a day, mostly at the day’s end. “In the future, if departmental system and their infrastructure are upgraded, then real-time capturing of data will be feasible within departments," Kumar said.

The department is working to integrate mobile phones as a delivery platform. Currently, citizens can get the status of their applications by sending a text message or SMS to 9211728082. Also, one SMS every Tuesday is sent to the head of the department showing the pendency under e-SLA. Citizens are sent SMS on receiving their application in the e-SLA. A phone message is also sent when an application is disposed off.

“We want to expand the services from 116 to 350 in the coming years," said Kumar. “In next two-three months, we would add more services to reach 200. We want to bring all other services on mobile as well."

The administration of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have replicated this system. Odisha has also shown interest in the system.

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the Manthan Awards.

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Updated: 11 Nov 2013, 12:36 AM IST
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