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PUDA’s Parmod Kalia explains how Punjab is curbing unauthorised constructions through GIS-based app

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Having the first-of-its-kind mobile application on Unauthorised Constructions and Illegal Colonies, Punjab Govt has set a unique example in curbing the menace of illegal constructions

The Government of Punjab has initiated certain IT projects, particularly for the urban development department. These initiatives are aimed at providing benefits to the department as well as the citizens. One of the major initiatives of the state government, which is unique in India, is the Unauthorised Constructions and Illegal Colonies (UCIC) mobile application to monitor the unauthorised construction of illegal projects.

“We have found that many illegal contructions are happening everyday. With the directions of our additional Chief Secretary and Chief Administrator, we have undertaken this initiative. Under this application, all the masterplans are revenue based. All the various authorities of different districts have separate jurisdictions, under which the regulatory component falls. The officers of these regulatory bodies monitor unauthorised constructions. Previously it was very difficult to track such constructions; however, a photograph of an unauthorised construction can be uploaded on the app. This captures details of the particular site along with its longitude and latitude information,” informs Parmod Kalia, GM (IT&C), Punjab Urban Planning & Development Authority (PUDA).

Additionally, the app is also based on revenue based map, which enables indication of revenue parameters of a particular land. Through this, the concerned Junior Engineer (JE) can be informed about the unauthorised construction along with its details. When the Junior Engineer uploads a photograph, an SMS is sent by the Chief Administrator to the concerned JE – this way they can monitor any illegal construction. Furthermore, an action report is also sent and recorded, in knowledge of competent authorities at appropriate levels.

Another interesting component of this app is that access is provided to citizens as well, wherein they can record any illegal construction activities. Similarly, they can also upload the photographs; an SMS is then sent to them notifying that the complaint is recorded. Once the complaint is recorded, the concerned JE checks the genuinity of it and the action taken on the complaint is also communicated to the citizen.

“This app was launched by the Punjab Chief Minister in November 2017, and we have been getting a very good response. It started as a pilot project in certain areas, but now it has been further extended across the state from an urban point of view. Notably, the most important component of this initiative is that it’s imposed on masterplans as well as revenue records. This enables capturing of GPS information along with the revenue details,” he says.

Developed by the state’s IT team along with private players, the app can be further extended to other departments as well, based on customisation. “Alongside this app, we have also introduced another concept on attendance. Similarly, we already have Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) app which provides all the details about the allotee such as the allottment status, property and transaction details; we also have a built-in grievances and employee module,” explains Kalia.
The UCIC app also features another interesting component of ‘Selfie Attendance’, wherein an employee can upload his photograph with longitude and latitude details – this is particularly more relevant for the field staff, enabling them to mark their attendance even from the site.

“We have also extended E-CLU for change of land-use. With this development, people in the state can get E-CLU approval for their lands, without visiting our office. For example, a person can go to this portal with some of the information of his land, after which, he can check all the details of the land and its respective purpose of use,” he states.

Under the ICUC app, PUDA has been able to register about 400 cases; and over 120 cases have been reported by citizens.
Commenting on the focus in the near future, Kalia adds, “Many people are now becoming aware about the application. The digitization of all the masterplans is being done in Punjab, wherein all the major towns will have GIS based masterplans; this is being done by Punbaj Remote Sensing Centre in Ludhiana. It is important to make information available to the user. Earlier the focus was more on web portals, which is now shifting to mobile, thereby facilitating ease of operations and use. We are also integrating our telephone directory into the mobile app. In near future, we will also move our focus to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).”

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