From paying municipal taxes to booking marriage gardens, your transaction with the Bhopal Municipal Corporation will soon go online as the civic body prepares to turn cashless in line with the Centre’s digital economy push.
After demonetisation announcement and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support for a less-cash society, several villages and government bodies across the country are opting for cashless transactions.
Latest to join the trend in the state will be the Bhopal civic body, which has decided to install 120 point of sales (POS) machines that will be provided by a private bank for free. All the BMC’s ward offices, zonal offices, public facility centres, building permission branches and the Bhopal City Link Limited will be equipped with POS machines.
Payment of urban taxes such as property tax, water tax and consolidated cess can also be paid through National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), said BMC sources. Every parking zone of the BMC will have the provision for the digital payment, they said.
Apart from the POS machines, Quick Response Code (QR) system will also be introduced to facilitate people to pay the parking charges digitally, a BMC official said. A workshop was organised recently to sensitise accountants, ward in-charges and zonal officers of BMC about the digital transactions.
Officials were told about the use of Unified Payment Interface (UPI), Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), pre-paid wallet, micro ATM and other digital transaction systems.
BMC deputy commissioner Pradeep Verma said it was imperative for the corporation to go cashless as digital transactions would save time and maintain transparency in the system.
Most corporators and the public are, however, sceptical about the success of the BMC’s cashless drive.
“Procurement of 120 POS machine cannot ensure total cashless transactions in the BMC. Payment of property tax and application of building permission, which were digitised years ago, are not functioning properly,” said Congress corporator Girish Sharma.
“Even the ticketing machines installed at the parking lots do not work properly and they are talking about QR codes. The BMC does not have requisite infrastructure to go digital,” he said. It will only create hardships for the people, he said.
Cyber crime fears
Bhopal residents shared the corporator’s cynicism and questioned how safe the digital transactions would be given the growing cases of cyber crimes.
Ayushi Sharma, an Old City resident said, “My parents are not tech-savvy enough to pay taxes online, and I come once a year to Bhopal. So, this system will be problematic for families like mine. The corporation will have to accept cash payments because the internet penetration in Bhopal will be not more than 25 to 30%.”
Another resident from Shyamla Hills, Preeti Dheer, said: “I am not going to swap my card for parking fees of ₹2 or ₹5 nor will I use an app with my card transaction details for the same. Is the state or even the central government equipped enough to secure digital transactions from cyber-crime attacks?”
Senior BJP leader and corporator Krishnamohan Soni said cashless transactions would curb corruptions. “The BMC often faces corruption allegations. Hence, even if the public initially face little problem, they will ultimately appreciate it.”