The Military Lands and Cantonments (ML&C) Department is an executive department of the Ministry of Defence with a mission to ensure pro-people, efficient local governance in cantonments and effective defence land management. By ensuring provision of municipal services at grass root level, the department has always proved that action speaks louder than words. Across Pakistan, there are 12 Military Estates (ME) Circles and 44 Cantonments spread across 306,341 acres of land. As per the census of 2017, approximately 4.7 million people reside in the cantonments. For better administration, these cantonments and ME circles have been grouped into six regions - Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Quetta - with a national level headquarter based in Rawalpindi.
The use of modern technologies and digital transformation all around the globe is increasing the efficiency and efficacy of services. ML&C department has also embarked upon efficient e-governance tools for its two broader functions, i.e. defence land management and provision of local governance services. Adoption of business intelligence solutions for enterprise resource planning ensures effective management, procedural transparency and public awareness.
ML&C Department established a data centre and an in-house IT setup to develop solutions which can cater the peculiar requirements of the cantonments. As of now various integrated IT solutions have been developed and successfully implemented in all offices of ML&C Department. State of the art one window facilitation centres with the name of CBCARE (Cantonment Board Citizen Assistance and Rapid Execution) have been established in all Cantonment Boards, through which cantonment residents can avail any service being provided by the Cantonment Boards. Furthermore, a mobile app with the name of CBCARE is also available on Play Store (Android) and App Store (Apple) for the public which can be used by the cantonment residents to register any complaint or view status of their applications or complaints. Specific timelines, as per the nature of requests, have been defined to ensure timely disposal and monitoring escalation of the outstanding / pending requests. Some of the requests include birth certificates, death certificates, marriage/divorce certificates, mutation of property, tax exemption, building plans, issuance of NDC, water connection, rent cases etc. Complaints of the residents are auto-assigned to respective officials as per the responsibility for timely action. Complainants are also notified about the status of applications / complaints through mobile app and SMS on their given mobile numbers. After the successful implementation of CBCARE System, similar facilitation centres with the name of MECARE (Military Estate Citizen Assistance and Rapid Execution) Centres have been replicated in 11 x MEOs (Military Estate Offices) for public convenience.
Furthermore, websites of all Cantonment Boards have also been developed, which are readily available to the public to get basic information about their cantonment board, its board members, contact numbers of public dealing officials, required documents against the processes / applications and public related initiatives undertaken by the cantonment board.
Another major public related initiative is the e-payment of property tax and other related fees. The ML&C department had signed an MoU with 1Link to facilitate e-payments through the mobile app / internet portal of any member bank of 1Link which include all leading banks in Pakistan. It practically enables residents to pay their taxes / dues through their bank’s mobile app from anywhere in the country and abroad. Status of the online payments can also be verified from the link available on the website.
IT solutions have also been implemented to ensure openness and transparency in the processes for the recruitment of human resource and procurement of goods. All vacancies have been announced at the website of ML&C Department, mentioning qualification and experience requirements. Interested candidates can sign up on the portal to create their profile and apply against a vacancy as per their qualification and age. All applications have been received through the website and no manual application is entertained by the office. Recently, ML&C Deptt has also signed a MoU with Virtual University of Pakistan to utilise their infrastructure to conduct computer based screening tests for selection of candidates. All results of the screening tests are published online at the website for information of the candidates. Mobile SMS is also generated at different stages of the recruitment process to intimate candidates about the status of their applications. As of now, more than 45,000 candidates have applied for 138 vacancies. Similarly, all tenders for works / goods are published on the website of ML&C Dept, in addition to its publication on the PPRA website. Interested bidders can submit their bids online after fulfilling required criteria mentioned against a tender. All bids are opened electronically in the office of the cantonment board, which also enables bidders to view the bids comparative statement in their e-profile on the website. It allows bidders to view bids of all qualified bidders without visiting the office, resultantly ensuring transparency. More than 1772 e-tenders have so far been processed through the online e-tendering / e-bidding system.
Moreover, ML&C Department has utilised the Geographical Information System (GIS) to map the properties within the cantonment limits through an android based mobile application. It remarkably enabled cantonment boards to detect thousands of undetected properties that had mushroomed over the years, boosting regular revenue generation via property tax. Overall, there is an expected increase of 20% in the revenue receipts of cantonment boards through this drive.
Similarly, automation has been introduced to minimise manual processing of files in the offices. Record of all permanent and temporary human resources of ML&C Department has been computerised. A comprehensive Human Resource Management System (HRMS) has been used to regularly update the record. The Deptt has also developed an android based mobile app with minimal cost for the attendance system using the latest artificial intelligence techniques. Attendance of more than 31,000 employees is marked through the attendance mobile app on a daily basis. On similar lines, IT solutions have been implemented to computerise and update the record of taxable properties, lands, litigation cases and audit paras. On the basis of the revenue system, a list of property tax defaulters can easily be downloaded to recover outstanding amounts. Strict implementation methodologies have been devised to ensure timely updation of records.
To introduce automation in a public sector department, development of required solutions is an uphill task, however, its successful implementation in an office or department requires constant effort and support from all the related stakeholders. ML&C Department is successful in taking the step forward which will enable Cantonment Boards and Military Estate Offices of the department to utilise its resources at optimal level to perform public service delivery.