Going by the general notion Uttar Pradesh (UP) is not a state in India to look for IT advancements. But this myth has been broken now. After the success of its unique model for citizen grievance redressal system, Lokvani, the government has aggressively embarked e-Governance. Moreover, the number of initiatives started by the state government in e-Governance over last couple of years towards establishing backbone network, delivery of IT services to masses and its proactive policy measures shows government’s serious engagement in the concern. Uttar Pradesh came out with its Information Technology Policy in 2004, which clearly outlines the establishment of IT Pool fund for e-Governance projects. Lokvani, which was initiated in one district of Sitapur is now being replicated in 70 districts of the state.
Uttar Pradesh government’s IT Secretary, Zohra Chatterji, shares with egov the success and plans of e-government projects of the state.
What have been key achievements of Uttar Pradesh (UP) government in terms of e-Governance till now?
The projects initiated by U P government (see the box) have been the main achievements. In general the major achievement of the e-Governance initiative of the State has been to break down mind barriers and implement systems such as land records across such a vast state despite challenges. It has thus opened the way to decentralise information dissemination, decision-making and reducing the face-to-face citizen official contact. Another major achievement has been opening up the way for public- private partnership and put ICT initiatives in the rural areas. e-chaupal run by ITC and other such private initiatives have been very well received. The sheer geographical and population size of the State however over shadows the e-Governance initiatives so far, which though not glaringly visible have nevertheless affected, the socio-economic structure. The Lokvani model has become a successful model for prompting rural employment at no cost to the Government. Some kiosk owners of Lokvani are earning as much as Rs. 50,000/- per month.
Could you provide the highlights of SMART CITY Project?
The Smart City Project initiative is being launched under the name of “E-Suvidha” in Lucknow. Initially 5 centres in Lucknow will be made operational and enable payment of house and water tax, electricity and phone bills, issue of temporary driving license etc. This will be extended to 20 centers in 2004. Other major cities will also be covered in 2006.
Do you have any e-Governance framework for UP? If yes, could you elaborate?
An institutional framework has been put in place for driving the e-Governance initiative in the State headed by an IT Advisory committee under the Chief Minister and an Apex committee under the Chief Secretary. Departmental Mission teams have been set up and are in the process of identifying and preparing projects with public interface, which can be rolled out quickly. The e-Governance framework is being developed further and the government has commissioned a consultancy organisation of International repute to prepare a framework of e-Governance initiatives and Road Map for the next 5 years for the State. In addition to promoting e-Governance, the State is actively looking towards the development of IT Industry in the state as a whole. To this end, the Chief Minister has constituted the UP State Development Council under the chairmanship of Shri Amar Singh. The council has in turn taken up IT as a key focus area and formed an IT sub-committee under the Chairmanship of Shri Nandan Nilekani, Managing Director of Infosys. The IT subcommittee has come up with the UP IT Policy 2004, which has been greatly welcomed by entrepreneurs and has given a boost to IT Investment in the state.
Do you envision any advantage being derived from the recently announced national e-Government Plan (NeGP) of India?
GoUP sees NeGP as an opportunity to substantially increase in scale by replication our tried and tested e-Governance applications and at the same time make a focused effort to enter into new and promising areas of e-Governance. Under the NeGP the states are required to develop a State e-Governance Plan. This is a good step, which will help the states to develop a well focused vision for overall development of e-Governance in the State.
The major e-Government projects initiated in Uttar Pradesh, India
• DAMA based Video conferencing network for live monitoring of government programmes – A DAMA based video conferencing network covering all 70 districts in U.P. has been installed to monitor the development schemes/programmes of the State specially those which are citizen centric and infrastructure oriented. The network is being extensively used by GoUP official to monitor the schemes/programmes live.
• Treasury and budget: Uttar Pradesh was the first state to fully computerise Treasury operations till tehsil level, prepare computerised Budget.
• Computerisation of Land Records:- All Khatauni land records in the 70 districts, 300 Tehsils, and about 813 blocks of the state have been computerised and they are being made available through internet to the land owners.
• Lokvani:- An internet based complaint redressal system developed by the District Magistrate, Sitapur, after extensive field trials has been extended by GO of IT department of the State government for implementation in all 70 districts of the State. The Lokvani project has the capacity to register complaints online, route disposal of complaint, and monitor progress of the complaint. The project also features IVRS in Hindi to read out the status of the complaint. Other assets being added to the basic Lokvani project include status of Arms License, Provident fund information of teachers of Department of Basic Education, Trade Tax Checkposts details, Works done under Sansad / Vidhyak Nidhi Yojana etc.
• Online counseling: The UP Technical University and the department of Technical Education have conducted online counseling of the students desirous of obtaining admissions to various technical colleges and universities in the State
• Results on Internet: The Board of High School and Intermediate Education declare all their results on the Internet to help Lakhs of students who appear every year for the High School and Intermediate examinations.
• Telemedicine:- The State was among the first in the country to start Telemedicine project. The Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences have successfully implemented the same in rural areas of the state. A commercial version of the same is also being tested at the IIT Kanpur, under the aegis of Media Lab Asia for extending the same on a larger scale.
• IT enabling the transport department:- The State has computerised the working of 18 regional transport offices e.g. the registration and certificate generation, payment receipt generation, License issue and commercial permission issue. RFPs are being located for computerisation of check posts and Smart Card based driving licenses.
Could you brief our readers on the progress of State Wide Area Network (SWAN) in UP?
Uttar Pradesh was one of the first States in the country to propose setting up of a 2 Mbps SWAN. The proposal was designed by NIC and has been approved by the centre and given the shape of a national scheme. An advance of Rs. 9 crores has been made available to NIC by the government of India for the first phase. Work is in progress.
What is Uttar Pradesh IT department doing for building an effective system of redressal of public grievances?
After extensive field trials the Lokvani – Complaint redressal system developed by UP- was approved for replication in all 70 districts of the State. The Lokvani system uses pre registered computer kiosks to register public complaints, guides the complainant on the progress of his query and for the illiterate uses Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) facility in Hindi to read out the messages or information. A Government Order (GO) of the IT department has been issued under which the system is now being replicated in all districts through societies formed for this purpose. This has proved to be an effective system of grievance redressal and we are satisfied with it.
With all these IT projects in pipeline, can you explain how these IT projects are going to help the Government to bring transparency? Will these projects reduce the operation costs of the Government in the future?
The basic objective of any e-Governance project taken up by the State is to help create a SMART State. The “T” of the SMART state stands for “Transparency”. IT projects inherently introduce transparency as the transaction flow is logical and human subjectivity minimized. Their implementation is sure to reduce optional costs and bring the additional benefit of increased revenue though more efficient collection of dues and taxes.
What is the allocated e-government budget for UP this fiscal year? What are your budgetary plans for future?
The current budget for e-Governance in the State is around Rs. 10 crores. Future Plans shall depend on the projects generated and the e-Governance Road Map and State e-Governance Plan against which funded will be attracted from Government of India.
What are the strengths of UP as an IT Destination?
Even before the IT Industry had begun to be widely recognized as the “Sunrise” industry in India, the sun had already risen on it in Noida! Though it was a quiet unpublicised sunrise. UP still continues to be a premier IT destination and Industries continue to be attracted to set up base at Greater Noida and Noida. The proximity of these destinations to the National Capital together with highly developed infrastructure remains unmatched. UP is a gold mine of knowledge workers with more than 1 lakh technical graduates every year. It is also home to premier institutions like IIT (K), IIM (Lucknow) and IIIT (Allahabad), IIT (Roorkee) PG center, Noida. It also has 141 Technical colleges, 94 polytechnics and 20 multidisciplinary universities.
We have a progressive IT Policy and a number of special benefits are available to IT Industry such as preferential allotment of land, continuous power supply, extended working hours for women, IT Industry permitted in residential area, 100% exemption from stamp duty etc.
UP is the largest market in India and given the scale of the e-Governance initiatives involved in reaching its 97,942 populated villages it makes sound sense for IT vendors and manufacturing companies to set up shop in U.P.