Right To Service – A Power To Punjab’s Citizens

The development of technology has flourished in recent years. Thanks to globalization, the internet and digitalization in particular, have made a significant impact in the field of information and communication. Its arrival has changed our way of life from all points of view whether it is at home, at work, or at leisure. It has made the world smaller in size, more efficient and often more affordable.

In view of this, Government of Punjab has taken an initiative in using digital technology under Right to Service Act (RTS), 2011 which has led to effectual governance of the state.To ensure timely delivery of public services to its citizens, Punjab government has announced the bringing of 206 public services within the scope of the RTS Act. The Act includes 32 services in home department, 30 of health, 28 of local government, 14 of electricity, 12 of revenue, 14 of agricultural, 9 of social security and transport, 8 of technical education and many more.

Punjab has set the stage for this revolution which involves offering most of its services online. The use of IT infrastructure in its offices and direct connections with WAN and LAN have been established in many departments of the government sector. Punjab has made provisions of giving IT training to 9,000 officers under e-district projects, out of which 1700 officers have been imparted with the training and 7000 people will receive it in the next two months. More than 900 officers are connected with LAN till date. These officers would be further linked with Sewa Kendras.

It has been disclosed that, in total there are 2147 Sewa Kendras out of which the ones in Ludhiana (195), Amritsar (152), Jalandhar (141), Gurdaspur (144) and Bhatinda (126) are under construction and several others have already been constructed. Issues related to NOC’s, BSNL connectivity,data digitalization, training of government officials and connectivity of field offices were raised, discussed and asked to be resolved as soon as possible.With the enactment of e-district project, backend automation of about 200 services will be accomplished across Punjab. Under the SSDG project, 8 pension related services are accessible online on Punjab State Portal for its citizens.

Apart from the training, IT infrastructure including 2500 new computer systems, printers, scanners and 800 new broadband connections have been provided in the government offices. Digitalization has led to effective and efficient management of all official work and has helped in supervising all pending work. The backend pendency of citizen service applications in Suwidha Centers for services has been reduced from 1.09 lakh in June 2014 to just 1071 by January 2015. Along with this, digital signatures have been provided to 800 officers so that they can give online approvals.

Punjab has come up with a digital locker system for its officers’ convenience to store and access the documents of all the citizens on the cloud storage system which involves a login id and password for each individual.

A delegation from Afghanistan, consisting of 49 civil services officers and professors of public administration from different universities visited Chandigarh looking forward to strengthening their public administration education. These scholars appreciated Punjab Government’s commitment to provide its citizens with all the required services under the Punjab Right to Service Act, 2011.

The whole new system aims at unburdening the government employees of heavy and chaotic manual file work besides updating their skills and efficiency. This process will hasten the response to citizens’ requests as well as help in saving the environment by reducing paper work.

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Reforming Punjab – The ‘E’ Way

With an aim to streamline and bring efficiency and transparency in public functioning, Punjab has launched e-governance project in the state. The state will soon be the first Indian State to get the coveted status of e-sarkar. The e-sarkar initiative will cover all 47 departments and their 143 branches across the state with an Integrated Workflow and Document Management System (IWDS). This system will be responsible to process the common tasks online. Deputy Chief Minister, Mr.Sukhbir Singh Badal added that a three-tier governing mechanism has been institutionalised by Punjab Infotech for effective implementation and review of this project. He said the e-sarkar would also provide for an online repository of various circulars, acts, gazette notifications and reports.

Let’s have a brief look at some of the ‘e’ projects.

  1. E-District

The e-district project started off as a pilot project in two districts, Nawanshahar and Kapurthala. In the pilot project, a set of 47 high volume and citizen centric services were chosen. The broad activities under the pilot implementation were installation and commissioning of required infrastructure at data centre and field offices, user training to various officials, development of e-district application. The project will be currently implemented in 20 districts. The total project cost is around Rs. 55 crore. The Punjab State e-governance society (PSEGS) is administering the implementation of e-governance projects in the state and Wipro has been entrusted as a consultant for the project. HP has been selected as implementing agency for horizontal replication of e-district in other 20 districts.

 

  1. E-tender

In order to bring transparency in the tendering process, the government is implementing e-procurement system for various types of goods and services in all its department/board/corporations. This will lead to competitive and suitable bids from the bidders. In other words it will also ensure ease and efficiency without any compromise on the required procedures.  E-procurement will provide transparency and also save time and money by shortening the procurement cycle. The biggest advantage is that the contractors will no more be required to walk to government offices for tendering process. The online solution TENERWIZARD will be utilized by all the organisations and institutions. This will also act as the real-time bidding solution for buyers with exceptional profitability, control and simplification of the tendering process. The solution will also help in disseminating and give easy access to information related to government tenders.

  1. E-PRI Punjab – Panchayati Raj Institutions

In order to make Panchayats more efficient and transparent, Punjab has started e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP). This will help promote e-enablement of all the Panchayats. The e-Panchayat MMP under the National e-Governance plan will have 11 core common software applications in it. In the state of Punjab, 7 all live core applications i.e. PriaSoft, Planplus, Local Government Directory, National Panchayat Portal, Area Profiler & Training have already been adopted out of 11 and are live in its 182 blocks.

 

  1. E-Stamping

With an aim to computerise revenue department for promoting transparency and removing malpractices in registrations in the state, Punjab Government has launched the e-stamping project. Now, the revenue department will do online reconciliation of its transactions on a daily basis. Government of Punjab will also introduce e-registration in next six months. This will help in complete computerisation of the revenue department. . The stamp papers, which were earlier available at only one bank, will now be available through all 22 recognised banks and thousands of their branches across the state. People will be able to deposit the stamp paper fee at thousands of branches of various banks nearest to their workplace or residence. Other than this, people will deposit only the exact fee instead of being forced to buy stamps of more denomination than needed due to lack of availability and creation of artificial scarcity. These will eradicate the middlemen culture and all this will be available without any extra cost. The stamp pampers will have unique Id and can be verified online.

The state government, with all these projects, aims to bring about a digital revolution in Punjab.

Aiming For Effective Governance

The reflection of effective governance in Punjab can be easily seen by the number of “Common Service Centre” or “Suvidha Kendras” opened by the government across the state for the convenience of people.

These Kendras are multiple-services-single-point representation for availing amenities for multiple transactions at a single geographical location. The prime intention of these centres is to provide a physical facility for delivery of e-Services of the Government of Punjab to the rural and isolated locations where availability of computers and internet is currently nil. This would help the citizens of the state to avail basic amenities in a hassle-free manner.

These Suvidha Kendras across the state are Gram Suvidha Kendra, Saanjh Kendras and Fard Kendras.

Gram Suvidha Kendras:

We can’t deny the complexities that agricultural value chain in the state has to face. In order to ease the complexities, the government is working effectively to weed out spurious inputs, lack of storage facilities, and high number of intermediaries that add on to subsequent margins without adding any value to the produce.

To guarantee citizen-centric services in the rural areas, Punjab Government has decided to set up 3037 e-Gram Suvidha Centres in the villages across the state at a cost of Rs. 90 crore. The delivery of old-age pension, registration of pension for handicapped and widows and disabled persons is monitored and ensured by these Gram Seva Kendras. These centres have been set to ensure various welfare schemes besides various citizen-oriented services in a hassle free and competent manner.

Saanjh Kendras:

This project was started in 2010 in the state as a partner initiative between the community and police. It is said to have extended the concept of community policing centre, up to sub-division and police station level. More than 500 Saanjh Kendras have been implemented in the state. The main motive to start this project was to provide services to citizens immediately leveraging the state-wide IT platform.

Fard Kendras:

This project has computerized upto 51 million land records across 36 districts in the state. The government has by now computerized all types of land records like Jamabandi, Roznamcha waqiati and Mutation. Jamabandi Records include the Khasra and Khatauni of the lands. This digitization of land records has benefitted the land owners as well as the revenue department. Owners can now get the nakkals of their land records on the spot from any Fard Kendra or even access them online. This has brought in transparency between the revenue department and the land owners.

This e-governance revolution is not only going to address important issues like enhancing facility experiences, but will also help in curbing corruption to a certain level. The e-governance strategy has brought smiles to millions of faces as availing facilities has become easier. The e-facilities installed is another step towards growth and development of the state.

Just A Click Away – e-Governance In Punjab

E-Governance is a unique initiative in Punjab to connect both urban and rural citizens to the Government and to provide them with better facilities and hassle-free services. Earlier a lot of time and money was wasted by citizens who were unknowingly misguided by agents as they had limited knowledge and access to Government services and actual fee charged. Use of information and communications technologies can radically transform how a Government delivers services to citizens.  According to Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, e-Governance is empowering citizens with service delivery in their proximity through Information & Communication Technology.

In India, Punjab is the first state that has the status of e-Sarkar covering all the 47 departments and its 143 branches with Integrated Workflow and Document Management System (IWDMS) to process common tasks online. A number of projects have already been implemented at the District, Tehsil and Sub-Tehsil levels.

E-GOVERNANCE IN PUNJAB

Punjab State e-Governance Society functions as a leading body for the execution of e-Governance projects in the State. The e-Governance projects taken up by the State include- SUWIDHA Integrated Citizens Services, Integrated Land Records Management System, Transport Services, Treasury and Accounts Management System, Social Security Management System, Agrinet Punjab etc. To strengthen the vertical and horizontal connectivity within the State, Punjab State-Wide Area Network (PAWAN) is being implemented successfully in the State. Till now, 2112 CSC or Common Service Centers have been set up in the State. Under the project Integrated Land Management System, 47 out of total 156 Tehsils and sub-tehsils have been made live while the trial run is on for others.

Project SUWIDHA punjabProject SUWIDHA (Single User-friendly Window Help Line for Applicants) has been started to assist citizens by providing single-gateway for submission of forms, applications and delivery of various citizen-centric services. The project has been implemented in all the 17 DC Offices and 54 SDM offices of Punjab. Under the SUWIDHA project, all applications and requests for services like Birth & Death Certificate Issuance System (BDCIS), Affidavit Information System (AIS), Passport Applications Acceptance System (WebPASS) and many more can be submitted at a single window. It provides direct linkage with backend applications. The project SUWIDHA has been ranked the topmost project among all the e-Governance projects in the country by Skoch in 2005 – 06. The same project has also received an “Excellence Award” from Microsoft for providing opportune services to the populace.