Institutions of Governance in the field
The state Governments have created several Panchayat Raj institutions to ensure grass root level development. At village level the Gram Panchayats are there, these are grass root level institutions. At the intermediate level, i.e., Tehsil/Block/Mandal level there are nodal executive authorities, they coordinate the implementation of welfare schemes and services. In the case of Andhra Pradesh, there are Mandal Parishads. Similarly at the District level the common nodal administrative authority exists, in Andhra Pradesh at district level there are Zilla Parishads. Some places there are Divisions. At the state level there is state level Administration to prepare policy guidelines and ensure the smooth functioning of the Panchayat Raj institutions.
ePanchayat architecture and features
The idea behind e-Panchayat is to streamline the administrative processes and conserve resources at every village resulting in development and empowerment of citizens with with efficient and responsive local administration.
ePanchayat’s architecture is web-based n-tiered. It functions like Applications Services Provider for all Panchayat providing digital services to all the stakeholders. The stakeholders are Citizens, Elected Representatives, Grampanchayat officials, the Government and the Knowledge Workers. At panchayat level an ordinary client with Internet access is sufficient to implement e-Panchayat. Most of the computation is done locally, the reporting and association communication takes place through available network for a very brief period of time. Thus field level units can conserve a lot of communication cost and at the same time ensure the uniformity and quality of e-Governance services.
The EKPANCH Application Server Software has four main modules.
- Administration Module
- Management Information System Module
- Citizen Services Module
- Elected Representative Module.
The Administration Module helps the Gram Panchayat officials in executing their duties and responsibilities delegated to them. The MIS module is envisaged to facilitate the state level Gram Panchayat planning, finance and revenue Dept officials. The Citizen module is the one-stop and non-stop provider of all the services to the citizens. The elected representatives module is going to render services to the elected representatives. The multi-media based information dissemination software, the bio-metric based attendance monitoring software etc., are also part of this ePanchayat to facilitate empowerment through simplicity, morality, accountabilility, responsiveness and transparency (SMART) at the Panchayats.
ePanchayat implementation model
The main objective is to ensure successful implementation of EKPANCH in all the Panchayats, in shortest possible time with least amount of resources and overheads by the Government.
The following strategy is suggested. The Commissioner Panchayat Raj & Rural Employment need to buy only the servers. At Grampanchayats, on Build Own and Operate (BOO) basis the systems can be facilitated through a self-employment generation scheme. So that in each village one or two families shall able to get their livelihood by rendering services to the Citizens and the GP officials by operating and implementing ePanchayat. For rendering the services, the service charges can be fixed. It will be the enterpreneurs responsibility to collect and feed data, and generate reports. The amount of data fed and the number or reports generated are monitored through software and accounted for making payment. The system maintenance, procurement, Internet connectivity and associated logistics shall be taken care by the entrepreneur.
The Citizen Services are focused on
- Birth & Death Registration and Certification
- House Tax Collection
- Old Age, Widow & Disabled Pensions
- Trade Licenses
- Layout Permissions
- Grievances Monitoring
Current implementation status and conclusion
For sustainable socio-economic development at the grass root level, a wide involvement of the communities and businesses would need to be ensured. This would automatically warrant forging of sound business relationships based on transparency, mutual good will and benefit. NIC’s e-Panchayat offers a unique opportunity for establishing inter as well as intra stakeholders partnerships at the grass root level. Realising this fact the Government of Andhra Pradesh has decided to implement the e-Panchayat system in all the major Gram Panchayats in the Andhra Pradesh. It went one step ahead and to ensure e-readiness of the Panchayats, training, procurement of hardware etc., resources were allocated. To ensure sustainability, the RajIV operators were also being involved in the implementation of the e-Panchayat. (The village level enterpreneurs owning a computer, obtained through District Administration and Internet connectivity are called RajIV operators in Andhra Pradesh)
|Main features of ePanchayat
Other information, Counselling, Transaction Processing (including payment), certification , authentication, grievance redressal etc., services are included in
|Normal Model||Build Own & Operate (BOO) Model|
|Govt. has to procure and maintain the systems||It is enterpreneurs responsibility. Govt recommends a soft loan through Bank or through Govt’s economic upliftment welfare schemes.|
|Govt has to arrange for internet connectivity.||Govt need not arrange for internet connectivity.|
|The Gram Panchayat secretary or other officials may have to feed the reports to the central server. The existing staff may not be willing to operate and feed the data, as they may have to attend to other duties.||The data will be collected and fed by entrepreneur, as for each report entered and sent, he gets a fixed amount of revenue.|
|GP has to bear the overheads of system maintenance and communication and stationery and consumables charges. It will be difficult to monitor the expenditure on consumables.||GP need’nt bother about the recurring expenditure and need not keep track of the associated expenditure.|
|Operations may be slow, timely reporting may not take place.||Operations shall be faster, as GP can remove slow and non-responsive enterpreneurs. Or if load is more, may issue license to additional enterprenuers and thus create competition.|
|Difficult to encourage and create competition.||Prompt services results in quick revenues and thus speed and promptness are encouraged. And Scope exists for creating a healty competition for operating and utilising the EKPANCH system.|
|Gram Panchayat has to incur expenditure.||GP may also get a share of revenue.|
|Revenues may not go up as all payments may not be accounted.||Revenues go up as all accounts are recorded, even otherwise, people shall demand a receipt from a powerless businessmen for the amount paid rather than a powerful Govt servant.|
|Takes time to implement in all the villages, due to overheads.||Implementation can take place simultaneusly in all villages, as overheads are almost nil for the Govt.|
|Difficult to sustain the model.||Easy to sustain the model, so runs for longer time.|
|The Govt shall be under pressure to ensure successful implementation, as overheads are more and expenditure is involved.||Govt shall not have any pressure, as there is no expenditure for the project implementation in the field from the Dept. The pressure is distributed to all the village level enterprenuers. So problem is getting divided and solved.|
Currently, Government of A.P. has issued orders and released funds for rolling out ePanchayat in 475 major gram panchayats in AP. ( to be operational by end of current year). After this, the roll out plan will be expanded to 800 Panchayats. In each of these 475 panchayats, one PC with 8 hour backup UPS will be installed and connected to Internet. The software modules are both local and web based. Funds are allotted for hardware, data entry and training. NIC is giving software and training. The internal accounting of the Panchayat is taken care by Financial Accounting module.
|Similar ePanchayat initiatives are carried out in other states like Chhattisgarh (epanchayat.cg.nic.in), Uttar Pradesh, etc.|