LAHORE: More than one million people within three days downloaded the Insaf Imdad app developed for registration of the needy for getting aid in Punjab during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had launched the Chief Minister Insaf Imdad Package to provide relief to the deserving during the emergency.
To ensure transparency of the system, the government decided to use the information technology and tasked the Punjab Information and Technology Board (PITB) with developing the Insaf Imdad app, now available on Google Play Store.
The app is used for registering the needy to apply for the government aid by sending their details through it and via SMS.The government has so far received 11m applications from the citizens, which are being processed for action. The citizens have three channels to register themselves till April 7, namely SMS (for citizens who do not have smartphones), online portal (for registering through the web using smartphones or computers) and Android application (for registering through the smartphones).
PITB-developed app is being used for registering applications for aid
The app is in the top ranking on the play store and has crossed a million downloads in just three days.
Under the programme, the initial registration data will land on the PITB’s digital platform where after digital triangulation from various federal and provincial government databases (Nadra, BISP, AG Office, PLRA, Utilities and Excise and Taxation etc), it will be shared with the Punjab Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) for further verification and processing.
The PDMA will send the data to the districts where district committees set up under the deputy commissioners will further verify the list and a final list will be shared by the respective districts with the PDMA for disbursement of aid.The PDMA and the finance department will ensure that only the deserving citizens benefit from the relief package. Shortlisted applicants will be informed of their selection on their individual mobile numbers.
The payment will be disbursed through the telecom companies against the applicants CNIC through branchless banking mechanism (Easypaisa, Jazz Cash etc) so the citizen directly gets the cash, instead of involvement of any government functionary in cash disbursement, ensuring transparency.
This mechanism will also ensure that people don’t gather at one place, leading to social distancing, which is extremely important and necessary considering the current Covid-19 emergency.
Meanwhile, on the Play Store where the app is available for download, a number of people also complained about the poor working of the app and number of errors. They pointed out problems in uploading their form and demanded the authorities fix the problem as soon as possible.
One of the users, Irfan Malik, says the app still needs a lot of work because when he tried to submit the application, it said that there was no Internet connection despite him having a normal Internet connection.He demands the authorities to fix the problem so that he can submit his application.
Another citizen Afshan Sher Kalyar, says the app is not working on low Internet speed, which is creating difficulty to register because the Internet speed is constantly low.She suggests update of the app that it could work on 2G because she had saved the form but it status was unsent.
A PITB official, on condition of anonymity, speaking toDawn,points out thatthe load on the Internet has increased after the lockdown in several countries and it is creating problems for the citizens.He says the citizens could also use other options by sending their form through SMS or using online web portal.He says the app has been developed to facilitate the public during the lockdown so that people may not gather in different offices to submit their forms.He says the board is working continuously and forwarding the details of the citizens to respective departments for redress of their grievances.
Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2020