BDA prefers paper while India takes the digital route

BENGALURU: Offline office City agency has asked applicants to transfer money through DD and submit proofs by way of papers. The city is home to such software giants as Infosys and Wipro and it’s from here the Income Tax department’s centralised processing centre (CPC) handles a few million tax returns and refunds. But the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) seems to prefer paper work to technology adoption.

This is evident from the instructions it has given to the allottees of housing plots at the Nadaprabhu Kempe Gowda Layout coming up between Magadi Road and Mysuru Road. The instructions contained in the allotment letter sent to the 5,000 allottees in the first phase wants them to make a few declarations and submit other proofs, all by way of papers.

The instructions also say that the BDA will accept the money towards the plots only in the form of demand drafts (pay order).

According to a bank official, after the banking system has switched to RTGS/NEFT for transferring funds, bank branches usually don’t keep DD leaves or pay orders as there are hardly any requests for them. And, at the time of submitting applications in late 2015 and early 2016, applicants had to visit many bank branches looking for pay orders and had to pay huge commissions to get the DDs.

In fact, when a few branches of Canara Bank, Axis Bank and ICICI Bank started selling BDA applications in November 2015, they had to summon the police to control the huge crowds. Lack of an option to submit applications online caused the big rush and wasted time, energy and resources of both aspirants and banks.

“Online application ensures that all the required information gets into the organisation’s database correctly and completely. And, the applications and payments received get accounted for,“ said BA Harish Gowda, a retired IAS officer who introduced online systems at the Commercial Taxes and Food Departments. “In the manual application system, there are chances of applications getting lost or the data entry operator making incorrect entries,“ he added.

“Paper documentation tends to leave a weak audit trail and timely detection of any fraud or manipulation would be near impossible. In this age, when hundreds of crores are transacted by the BDA, it is surprising BDA ‘s digital footprint is very weak,“ said Vivek Mallya, a practising CA. In the past 10 years, several government services have gone online and this includes application for passport, filing of income tax returns and payment of property taxes. This has also eliminated the needless interface between citizens and government officials.

The lack of technology adoption and transparency at the BDA and other urban local bodies dragged Karnataka’s rankings among the states to 13th place in the Ease of Doing Business survey released two months ago.

Credits ET Realty

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