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Online governance to reach grassroots of West Bengal (India)

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The West Bengal (India) Government is planning to set up common services centres (CSCs) in each of the 4,562 panchayats in the state by Mach 31, 2008. These CSCs will allow villagers to avail services like registration of certificates, filing commercial taxes among others.

The state government has already set up such CSCs in more than 3000 panchayats. West Bengal is the first state to connect all the 212 blocks and 4,500 offices through IP phone and data cable. The IP phones provide video-conferencing at lower cost. In fact, public distribution centres, jails, treasuries and co-operative banks are also put on a wide area network. With the kiosks being outsourced to private companies, the services, however, would not come free. The state government is also trying to use geographic information system (GIS) for digital mapping of districts so as to know the exact location of a village. GIS would also be used to calculate how much rainfall an area receives in a year to facilitate irrigation. The government is also trying to put GIS for water harvesting mapping.

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