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Govt app will track water tanker movements

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ET CIO
07th November, 2019 08:19 IST
The Karnataka revenue department’s famed Bhoomi Monitoring Cell (BMC) has come up with a technology-based solution to ensure people in drought-hit areas indeed receive the drinking water the government has arranged for them. In the past, several contractors got away claiming bills for trips they never undertook.

The BMC has developed a Water Tanker Management System to monitor effective supply of drinking water. The system makes it mandatory for tanker drivers to install the app the BMC has developed, and upload photos and videos of the water supply trips in support of their bill claims. It will help officials to verify the claims from tanker owners and drivers about the quantity of water they claim to have supplied before clearing the bills.

“Under the new system, water tanker drivers who are given contract to supply water in drought-hit villages should compulsorily install the mobile app on their phones. This app operated and approved by tahsildars will geo-stamp the number of trips and the distance the tankers have covered,” commissioner of survey, settlement and land records Munish Moudgil, who is in charge of BMC, told ET.

The app, which works offline, has a feature where the drivers upload pictures while commencing the trip and when the water is delivered at the end point. They are also required to upload a 10-second video of the water supply activity capturing the tanker registration number. The BMC’s software will also calculate the kilometre of each trip using the GPS. The BMC team will verify the bills submitted with that of the app-generated data and only then can officials clear bills.

Every year, the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) spends about ₹150 crore (up to ₹200 crore during a severe drought year) to supply drinking water to drought-affected villages. The authority has currently deployed 318 tankers in 410 villages in about 13 districts.

Revenue officials say that loopholes in the existing system allow contractors to furnish fake bills and get the payment. “Not supplying water at all and submitting fake bills were a major concern. When crores of money was spent to provide water to villages reeling under drought, contractors were making money. Verification was a challenge as field-level functionaries too faced staff constraints to manually check every tanker,” an officer from KSDMA said.

The revenue department, which has started the trial run in Ballari and Kolar districts, is hoping to roll out the system soon after a few initial glitches are fixed. “Besides eliminating fraudulent claims, the new system will also ensure speedy processing of bills. It just takes two minutes to verify the information and we pass on the information immediately to the tahsildar who can clear the bills on a daily basis, unlike at present where bills are kept pending for clearance for months or a year,” Moudgil said.
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