J&K’s E-GOVERNANCE PROJECT DAMP SQUIB
Govt Yet To Ensure Full CSC Rollout
Srinagar, June 30: In a major concern, the Jammu and Kashmir Government’s much-hyped e-governance project is proving to be a big failure on ground, with a majority of departments yet to be computerized and the rollout of all the Common Service Centres (CSC) far from realization.
The e-governance project was initiated in 2009 by the Information Technology Department, as a consequence of national e-governance project. The three pillars of the project included going for State Wide Area Networking (SWAN), establishment of Data Centres at the state level and also the rollout of about 1100 Common Service Centres in the state by 2010.
While the SWAN and Data Centres—which would help in connectivity between various departments and compilation of data therein—seem to be a distant dream, the Department has failed to get all the Common Service Centres rolled out.
The CSCs were envisaged to provide high quality and cost-effective services in the areas of e-governance, education, health, telemedicine and other private services. But so far, not a single service in government sector is being provided by the CSCs, thus ‘depressing’ the young entrepreneurs while discouraging aspirants.
Official data reveals that only 569 centres have been rolled out so far, with an assurance that they shall provide services to the people like power billing, sale and purchase of different application forms in Public Service Commission and Service Selection Recruitment Board, facilitating postal services, sale and submission of Passport Forms and other allied services.
‘GOVT FAILED US’
According to the CSC entrepreneurs, the provision of such services would ensure increase their revenue component, as envisaged in the programme. “This time we are relying on services of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank that we have been asked to facilitate. These include loan documentation of different branches, creating awareness about banking products as Business Correspondents, collection and disbursal of small value remittances and a tie-up with a company for air-ticking etc,” said owner of a CSC, wishing anonymity. “The essence of the scheme was to make sure that almost every service offered in the government sector is provided at the CSC. We would then get a specific commission for doing this service.”
Interestingly, the owners are worried on the revenue component primarily in the wake of loans, to the tune of over Rs 1.50 lakh, they have got from the Bank for raising infrastructure at the CSC sites. “Right now the bank has delayed remittance, but we have to pay back the loan amount with interest. That is possible only when the government would ensure services delivery through CSCs,” they said.
Official data says there are 6600 villages in Jammu and Kashmir and the government was supposed to establish 1 centre for six villages.
The J&K Bank says it has already selected about 621 CSCs out of which 569 have been rolled out. “J&K Bank on its part has taken a number of steps to help these centres earn a decent living and also make it easier for them to repay their loans,” said FM Gani, Vice President of the J&K Bank, when asked about the status of the scheme.
He said they were on job to rollout more identified centres.
Initially, the CSC scheme is understood to have been put on the backburner in the state because of the non-availability of reliable private partners. “Since the central government was keen to extend the benefits of e-governance to Jammu and Kashmir, the implementation of the scheme in the state was entrusted to the J&K Bank,” said an official in the IT Department.
The Bank, he said, signed a Master Service Agreement with J&K Government as a Service Centre Agency in February 2009 for setting up 1109 CSCs in 22 districts of the state.
Irked by the alleged government indifference, a number of CSC entrepreneurs have approached the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, asking it to raise the issue with the Government. The PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti, has shot a letter to the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, asserting that the “government has proved to be very insensitive to the implementation of a good scheme.”
“The Department of IT has been holding the reviews and taking decisions at the apex level to implement this scheme. But I have been informed that none of these decisions has been implemented so far, even partially, though the last such meeting was held in February this year,” the letter reads. “This is a highly depressing scenario for the interests of the state, governance and the personal lives of some of our most brilliant youngsters. If this scheme is failing to take off, it is easy to imagine how all promises made to the youth of the state about providing new avenues of employment would sound increasingly hollow.”
Pertinently, in minutes of the February meeting, chaired by the Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, Secretary to IT Department, the government has passed the buck on the J&K Bank, asking it to ensure that all the Government to Citizen Services are through CSCs—something which the Government is supposed to do. “The government has to go for networking and computerization of departments and put the data at the disposal of CSCs. The money is available with them. But there is official indifference of sorts that has marred the project,” sources told Greater Kashmir.
The minutes, copy of which is with GK, reveals that the state government raised issue about incorporation of government logos on the CSC material and centres—a “non-issue” which, according to the observers, would have taken place gradually.
‘WE ARE AT IT’
While the Minister for IT Agha Syed Rohulla and Secretary, IT Department, MK Dwivedi could not be contacted, a senior official in the Department, however, said they were on job to ensure full implementation of the e-governance project. “It is a huge project which can’t be implemented overnight. It requires connectivity of different departments and compilation of data. We are at it and we want to complete the project as soon as possible,” the official, wishing anonymity, said.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 30 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 30 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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