Interview

Services at Click of Mouse : Prof. M K Prasad & M Sivasankar, Executive Chaiman and Director, Information Kerala Mission (IKM) and M Sivasankar, Executive Mission Director, IKM

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What is the status of municipal e-Governance in Kerala?  How important, in your opinion, is the e-Governance at the urban local bodies (ULBs)?

A number of services to the people are provided from the local governments, such as birth, death and marriage registration and waster disposal. In this regard, Kerala has the unique distinction of having all its urban local bodies with computerised registration of births, deaths and marriages from 2005 onwards. In the context of Kerala, the local governments have also a vital role in the plan preparation and implementation. The revenue sources of the urban local governments are not fully tapped and realised, mainly due to the difficulties in the manual system. With very limited increase in manpower when compared to the growth of urban local bodies, the systems are near breaking point or already collapsed. In this aspect, computerisation can play a crucial role, which will in turn help in mobilising maximum resources for the development.

What are the different services that are being e-Delivered in the ULBs in Kerala?  How is this impacting the service delivery in terms of speedy and improved G2C transactions?

The Information Kerala Mission (IKM) has currently implemented three service delivery oriented applications in all 58 urban local governments: (i) Sevana for births, deaths and marriages, (ii) Sevana Pensions for handling social welfare pensions and doles, and (iii) Saankhya for easy collection of receipts in the local government in a user friendly Janasaevanakendram.

The Hospital Kiosk programme for electronic registration of births and deaths directly from hospitals, and for issue of certificates by local governments through hospitals within 24 hours of registration, has been implemented in 17 urban local governments (184 hospitals) having considerable registration of births and deaths. The hospitals are linked to the urban local governments over a dial-up network. All these applications have greatly improved the service delivery.

What is the budgetary outlay for e-Governance programme for municipalities?

The e-Governance implementations at local bodies are being done in a phased manner and the budgetary outlay in different phases are varying, depending on the availability of funds with the local body and the size of the local body. The expenditure made in municipalities for completing the I and II phases varies from INR 350350 – 500 million over a period of 2 years. For municipal corporations, it varies from INR 1000 to 2000 million.

What are some of the capacity building issues that are
coming up at the municipal level? How are these being tackled?

IKM is imparting training on technical skills like computer fundamentals, application training on IKM software packages and the Commercial off-the-shore (COTS) software. The challenges are the training on business process reengineering, change management, behavioural aspects in the new context of e-Governance and its public interface.

What are the plans for improving the G2G services at municipality level in bringing more transparency and accountability in municipal operations?

IKM had already deployed applications for G2G services in employees provident fund for municipalities / Panchayats employees of Kerala, the decentralised plan monitoring for government agencies like Kerala State Planning Board, District Planning Offi ce and local bodies.

A centralised database for urban local body staff is under preparation which could be used for state level administrative purpose.

What is the role of public-private-partnership (PPP) in
implementing e-Governance at the ULBs?

The programme is implemented by the state government agency Information Kerala Mission. Software development, support and training are directly provided by the mission group. The services of the Kudumbashree (women’s self help groups) IT units are used for data entry  services. Private participation is limited to hardware supply and maintenance, and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software licenses.

Services of private fi rms are also being availed for supply of hardware and its maintenance.

What are some of your future plans in providing ‘single window’ services at the ULBs?

Already the single window concept of service delivery is implemented through the  JanasevanaKendram. More services needs to be added to this facility. There are also plans to extend it to more zonal/ circle offi ces in Corporations, and also to link to Community Service Centres.

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