Under the Community Information Centres (CICs) project, 487 CICs have been set up, at the Block level in the 8 North Eastern states of India covering Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. CICs have been equipped with state of the art computer communication infrastructure and two operators to run the centres and provide services to the local populace.
The infrastructure available at the CIC consist of one Server and five client machines at each of the 487 CICs. A TDM /DVB VSAT is installed at each CIC for Internet access. The DVB feature allows Video Broadcast over the CIC network which is received on the TV set provided at each CIC. The VB capability is being exploited for virtual learning and virtual class room sessions and edutainment purposes.
This is a collaborative effort between Department of IT (DIT), Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the respective state governments. DIT has funded the project and NIC has executed it with local support of state governments. The CICs were set up to take the benefit of ICT to the remote parts of the North-Eastern India, which has remained backward due to remoteness and difficult hilly terrain. The CIC project has two broad objectives:
- To enable citizens to use the infrastructure for various ICT services
- To extend the reach of Citizen Centric e-Governance services up to the Block level
Basic services being offered by all CICs are Internet access, e-mail, training in computer basics, printing, word processing, DTP etc. Computer awareness 'melas' are also organised by some of the CICs from time to time. The CICs charge nominal fees for these services and utilize the revenue thus generated for day-to-day expenses such as consumables, electricity and water bills etc.
Over the years, a number of e-Governance applications have been developed and implemented at the CICs. Primary among them are E-Suvidha and ASHA. E-Suvidha is a one-stop service facilitation centre for the issue of certificates, forms, licenses and other documents by the government to citizens. E-Suvidha, has been awarded the e-ASIA Award 2004 in Taipei, Taiwan by Asia Pacific Council for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (AFACT).
NIC Assam in partnership with Assam Agribusiness consortium has developed a model “ASHA- Making Farmers Prosperous through CIC using ICT” for facilitating agribusiness in the state of Assam. The portal used for this is http://www.assamagribusiness.nic.in. CIC operators update the website regularly and are helping to promote it.
In Meghalaya, the state government has undertaken the facilitation of exchange of documents between government departments through the CIC network. Online submission of forms and public grievances, delivery of land records, printing and distribution of e-mails to the local population, health tele-consultation, update of treasury data are some of the other citizen services provided. In Tripura, under the service of Hospital
Appointment Booking, patients can book appointments for specialist consultancy or medical tests at the Government hospital in Agartala, from the CICs. Rural Bazaar has been implemented in Meghalaya, which is an e-Commerce solution to address the marketing need of rural producers of handicraft and other products. Showcasing or full e-Commerce may be used. Newspapers are available on the Net in remote locations where the printed versions are delivered after long delays. RuralSoft, another useful application, enables the citizen to monitor schemes meant for the rural poor from the CIC itself. Based on the success of the CIC project in North-East, it has already been extended to another remote and less developed part of the country viz. Jammu and Kashmir. CICs have brought IT awareness and government services at the doorstep to the local community, which is empowered with information leading to a better standard of living and all round development of the region.