In a bid to automate door-to-door collection of property tax, the Chennai Corporation has initiated the process of procuring 285 hand-held Point of Sale (PoS) machines.

Similar to those used to issue bus tickets, the PoS machines will be distributed to all 276 officials engaged in door-to-door collection of the tax. The machines will also be available at all its 10 zonal offices.

Corporation Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni told The Hindu that field trials were under way in various wards with the five machines supplied by Bharti Airtel, the firm entrusted with the automation of the tax collection.

Listing the benefits of using the hand-held machines, he said that the data pertaining to properties and tax details could be accessed by the tax collectors easily. The hand-held machines would be GPRS-enabled and linked to the main server of civic body at Ripon Building. For senior officials, the machines would help in monitoring the work of the tax collectors on a real time basis.

Mr. Lakhoni said that another highlight of the system is that assessees who need to pay arrears to the Corporation would have to clear the outstanding before they pay the current dues. The hand-held machine would accept credit/debit cards, demand drafts and cheques besides cash. The Corporation, Mr. Lakhoni added, has decided to use the machines only to accept cheques and credit/debit cards. After the system is fully operational, payment through cash would also be introduced, as most residents of north Chennai only pay through cash.

A senior Corporation official who is part of the project said that Bharti Airtel has been awarded the contract for executing the automation project valued at Rs.93 lakh. A PoS machine is priced at Rs.20,000. All the transactions would be recorded within seconds and be available online.

For tax collectors, the machines would replace the bulky ledger books containing tax details. On a daily average, Rs.1.5 crore is collected by the tax collectors.