The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has been progressively undertaking initiatives towards the digitalisation of water services in the country’s capital. The authority has been working for a long time to en­able a shift to online services. DJB’s reven­ue management system (RMS) has been one such step. It has also undertaken other initiatives such as launching its own mo­bile application, providing online water ser­vices, deploying “water ATMs”.

Recent developments

In a bid to enable advancements and innovations, DJB launched a mobile app called “DJB mSeva” to provide greater conveni­en­ce to consumers. It allows consumers to instantly self-generate their bills at any time, 24×7, besides providing facilities such as online payment and viewing and do­wnloa­ding of previous bills and payment receipts.

In November 2021, DJB unveiled plans to shift 20 facilities to its online platform and provide all services of the zonal revenue offices online to smoothen out the existing glitches in the system. Customers can generate bills; lodge billing-related grie­vances; apply for new water and sewer connections; seek permissions for bore­wells; regularise unauthorised water connections; apply for mutation, disconnection, reopening, rainwater harvesting certificates; avail of DJB water tankers, etc., through DJB’s website or the DJB mSeva mobile app.

The step is aimed at delivering services to consumers in a transparent and timebound manner. Further, help desks will be set up in every zone to help each and every citizen of Delhi use the online services and register their grievances. In addition, the revamping of DJB includes a push for on­line options for customer complaint redre­ss­al and doorstep delivery. As of February 2022, the department is also working on the DJB4You mobile application, and the board has instructed officials to resolve grievances from customers within set timelines.

Revenue management system

The RMS adopted by DJB automates different functions across the water authority. It provides facilities for viewing and printing the latest water bill, making online pay­ments, logging grievances and tracking the status of an application. RMS is an end-to-end solution, whereby the key idea is to di­gi­­talise access to a host of services in the fo­rm of consistent, cyclical and accurate bill­ing and minimal meter-to-bill and bill-to-cash cycles. For bill payments, fa­cilities for net banking and debit/credit ca­rds are also available. DJB has collaborated with third parties such as banks, including Corpora­ti­on Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, IDBI Ba­nk and Allahabad Bank, to enable these pay­­ment options. The RMS has helped DJB improve its billing accuracy and made the revenue collection pro­ce­ss efficient by re­pla­cing offline billing with advanced online billing, and by allowing the recording of real-time transactions at a central server.

Other initiatives

DJB is also collaborating with MobiKwik to enable citizens to pay water bills using the wallet app from the comfort of their homes. It is one of the first such partnerships with a state government in the country. Apart from this, DJB is establishing a state-of-the-art real-time monitoring system for the city’s water supply infrastructure and ensuring proper functioning of water treatment plants through a supervisory control and da­ta acquisition (SCADA) system. The SCADA system will provide details such as pressure and flow of water at important lo­cations in the city’s water supply system.

DJB is planning to install about 3,285 flowmeters for water auditing of primary and secondary systems up to the district me­tered area level. As per the latest up­dates, nearly 3,204 flowmeters have been installed and are being integrated with the SCADA centre. DJB installed the country’s first SCADA system to monitor and control water distribution, with water-controlled valves at 13 local control points to help en­sure equitable distribution and ensure non-revenue water management in the city. Meanwhile, the water/sewer lines in Delhi have been digitalised and are available on the global positioning system map.

In sum

Greater automation and adoption of smart technologies is of utmost importance for the smooth operation of water utilities. It en­sures accurate water billing, reduces un­metered and illegal water connections, and makes it easier for customers to access water services. It also ensures transparency and enhances the revenue generation ca­pa­city of urban local bodies.

The digitalisation of different municipal functions through the adoption of the RMS has been one of the key revenue en­hancement strategies adopted by DJB. The system has helped both the board and consumers by offering them a seamless online experience. However, DJB has faced several issues and challenges in the implementation of the RMS. These include data migration of a large legacy system, data cleansing, staff training and unavailability of certain Oracle modules. The successful implementation of the RMS has helped the board strengthen municipal finances and facilitate effective delivery of services.

It is expected that in the future the water utilities of other cities will learn from DJB’s experience and undertake similar initiatives to improve their operational and financial performance.