Interview

We Have Open Doors for Private Players : Anoop Kumar Srivastava, Principal Secretary to Government of Meghalaya, Information Technology and Health and Family Welfare Departments

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Anoop Kumar Srivastava is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Offi cer of 1981 batch of Assam- Meghalaya cadre. He has served in various capacities in the Government of Meghalaya. He has twice served Government of India on central deputation

What is the approach adopted in implementing the state Mission Mode Project (MMP)? What is the progress of their implementation?

The State Government is adopting a multipronged approach in implementing the MMP in the State. While the State IT department is implementing some of the projects directly, others are being executed with the technical expertise of the National Informatics Centre (NIC). Most of the projects are at the nascent stage and we are taking steps to make them operational in the quickest possible time.

How would you rate your state’s progress towards making it an e-Ready state?

The state’s e-Readiness is also dependent on telecom backbone and IT environment created by the private entrepreneurs. The State is committed to be in the forefront of e-Governance activities in the North Eastern part of the country and we are at various stages of implementing threshold projects to attain this goal.

What are the business opportunities for the private
sector in implementing the various e-Governance projects running in your state?

In most of the e-Governance programmes, active support from private sector is encouraged.  While implementing various e-Gov programmes there will be enough business opportunities  for the private sector. The doors are open for the private sector players to come to the State  and share their expertise in the domain knowledge. The investment climate is conducive to  achieving an accelerated growth. Looking ahead, the State envisions collaborating with the  private sector in many important and economically fruitful ventures.

What are some of the best PPP practices in your state?

In the IT sector, we are yet to achieve fi nancial closure of any PPP initiative but at the same  time, we are looking for serious partners in setting up the IT Estate with the private sector  players. The IT Estate envisages a realty space of about 100 acres in the outskirts of Shillong  and we are intending to develop the infrastructure requirements for setting up BPO/ KPO centres.

What are the services that are being delivered / planned to
be delivered through    Common Service Centres (CSCs)? What are the steps being taken for a better user experience (e.g. localisation, etc.)?

The Common Service Centres (CSCs) in the States are being planned in accordance with the  demand mix as envisaged in the detailed project report. We have planned about 225 centres  in the whole State and amongst the services planned are the G2C services like birth/death  certifi cates, the SC/ ST certifi cates, the land revenue payments and records accessibility,  information delivery, etc. Amongst the B2C services, we will be having the agricultural prices monitoring and delivery module, the commodities market prices, e-Learning services, telemedicine, etc. The list is only illustrative and not exhaustive. We are in the process of incorporating modules that would be economically viable for the vendors to survive.

We are committed to ensure that the localisation issues are properly taken care of. Although  the requirement as per the guidelines would be more than a thousand CSCs, we have frozen  our requirement at 225 keeping the scalability and viability factor into consideration.

Please share with us on the capacity building programmes
being planned / implemented in your state.

As per the e-Gov programmes, we are planning a number of capacity building programmes in  the State. Some of them have already taken shape, and the students as well as private  sector participants are already part of the exercise.

What are the evaluation and monitoring techniques you are adopting to monitor the progress and to assess whether the proposed benefi ts are being delivered to the citizens?

We have not yet reached the stage where projects are to be evaluated in a scientifi c manner. However, to ensure proper implementation, it has been proposed that independent third party evaluators should be engaged to capture proper perspectives of the achievements and to provide with gap analysis when required.

What are your state’s key achievements in implementing
e-Governance projects?

Most of the projects have at present been implemented with the technical expertise of NIC and  we are looking at augmenting and consolidating them in the near future. The Treasury  operations, the VAT Collection, the transport module including the registration of vehicles,  municipality administration and the State portal are some of the examples.

What are some of the challenges that you are facing in implementing the e-Governance projects? How are they being overcome?

The biggest challenge in implementing the e-Governance projects in the State is the lack of  awareness and expertise of the core issues of e-Governance. Therefore, we are focusing more on  capacity building and training. Fund constraint is also a matter of concern though I must  state that the Government of India has always been helpful to the maximum possible extent.  We have very recently signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a IT company  in the private sector, which inter alia envisages acquiring IT advisory services. We believe  that the private sector players would be playing an important role in this aspect and we look  forward to a partnership, which would benefi t both parties.

What is going to be your main focus for the next few
years?

In the next few years, we will be focusing in bringing new investments to the State and make  Shillong an Investment capital of the North East. The Incentives provided are already  enunciated in the State Government’s IT Policy, 2004 (available at  http://ditmeghalaya.gov.in/IT%20Policy_2004.pdf) as well as North East Industrial and  Investment Promotion Policy 2007 (can be viewed at http://dipp.gov.in/incentive/ NEIIPP_2007.pdf). We are hopeful that the discussions we are having with a few private  players would bear fruits as early as 2008. As far as e-Governance is concerned, we are  committed to meet the deadlines set by the Government of India for implementation of SWAN,  CSCs, SDC and other MMPs. I appeal to eGov magazine to disseminate this important message that we are very serious in our efforts to make our State the IT destination of the  North East and with the GOI’s Look East policy, we hope that additional incentives would be  an icing on the cake for any potential investor.

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