Interview

Banking on Pawan : Narinderjit Singh, Government of Punjab

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Narinderjit Singh
Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of Punjab

“All Tehsils will be providing computerised Land Records by March 2009”

Complete computerisation of Land Records in Punjab was expected by July 2008. Is this target achieved? What are the key learnings from this project?

The phase I of computerisation of Land Records in Punjab project is slated to be completed by December 2009. There are several issues which are addressed in the implementation of the project. There is some inconsistency in the  Land Records under the Land Records Act and Manual. There are about 30 percent illogical and inconsistent data which would need more than 1 lakh Fard Badrs for correcting this data. In addition to this, there is huge work of standardisation of revenue terminology which needs to be carried out. The project also requires re-engineering the Revenue Sub-system. Lastly, the software development work is very complex for this project due to non-standard procedures being followed in different areas.

What is the status of e-District implementation in the pilot projects– Nawanshahr and Kapurthala? Are there similar projects planned for other districts as well?

The project consultant has completed the assessment study for various kinds of citizen centric  services at the pilot districts – Nawanshahr and Kapurthala. While doing so, SUWIDHA  project was also studied from the citizen point of view to understand the service delivery  mechanism. Individual and joint workshops were conducted at pilot districts and state  departments for drawing up a common Government Process Re-engineering (GPR) framework  applicable to all identifi ed services in consultations with different stakeholders  across the administrative structure. GPR framework encompasses technology enablers to  fasten the internal work fl ow and enabling CSC for close proximity with the citizens.  Suwidha/ Common Service Centres (CSCs) would act as interface from application submission  till the fi nal delivery of service output to the citizens. The state government has in principle  accepted the recommended GPR framework with an objective to automate the service  delivery for the convenience of the citizen. As a next step, the project consultant will design  re-engineered (TO-BE) system for all the identifi ed services and Functional Requirement Specifi cations (FRS) describing the functionality of the proposed automated services. In  parallel, the process for selecting an agency would also be initiated for on-ground  implementation of the project at pilot districts.

According to the e-District guidelines, the implementation of e-District project (Phase-I) is  planned over a period of eighteen months for study, development, testing and roll-out in the two pilot districts. Thereafter, Request for Prposal (RFP) would be prepared for state wide roll  out for the rest of the districts in the state in the next six months.

What is the status of Punjab State Wide Area Network (PAWAN)?

The order for vertical implementation of State Wide Network called PAWAN was given in the  month of January 2008 on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model for a period of 5  years. So far, we have setup 193 (out of 196) Point of Presence (PoPs) in the state, including  one at the state level, 20 at district level and 172 at Sub-division/ level. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is providing 2 Mbps bandwidth for this project throughout the  network. Apart from this, 21 Video Conferencing Centres have also been setup under the  project. We are now providing links from these PoPs to government offi ces which are within 100 meters from each of these PoPs which is expected to be completed by January ‘09.

For the horizontal connectivity of other government offi ces with nearest PoP, the department  has already started the bidding process for the selection of BOOT operator and I am hopeful  that the entire horizontal connectivity would be done within a period of 6-8 months from now  after which we can say that the entire important state administration is connected via PAWAN.

How far has project SUWIDHA achieved its objective of
providing a single    user-friendly window help line to the citizens of Punjab? What have been your department’s efforts in popularising this service and other G2C services?

This is one project which has received many awards at the national level. Single window  Suwidha Centres have been established in all the districts and sub-divisions of the state. The  project is highly successful in the delivery of citizen based services by the district  administrations but a lot of work is still required to be done for improving the service level.

The centres are to be interconnected within the district and with state Head Quarters (HQ) for  better management. Some of the back-end services are computeris ed but there are still  many where this is to be done at the earliest. I am hopeful with the e-District project in the  pipeline, the backend service departments would be computerised and their services integrated with Suwidha.

The connectivity with state HQ would also be established very shortly using SWAN and once this is done, the present problems faced by the citizens would be addressed more effectively.

The overall citizen reaction is very encouraging and more and more citizens are availing  services through Suwidha. Once CSCs are established, the government plans to take Suwidha  to the village level probably within one year from now and then large scale media  campaigning would be undertaken to popularise the benefi ts of the project.

How many Common Service Centres (CSCs) are being established in Punjab till date? How many are operational?

We are carrying out the required ground work in the state. There are 2112 CSCs to be established in the state which is a vast number needing a lot of preparation on the part of government. You will agree with me that many of the states where CSCs have been established have not been able to roll out suffi cient nunber of G2C services yet. There has been a lot of learning from the other states in this regard.

Public Private Partnership (PPP) has been a success for rolling out Common Service Centres (CSCs) in India. Do you see such partnerships in other sections of e-Governance? In Punjab, which are the departments which are following the path of PPP?

For various e-Governance projects, the state government is opting for a PPP model for  leveraging technical, managerial and fi nancial potential of private sector for faster implementation of e-Governance projects and also to act as a fi rst point interface to the citizen  for the delivery of services. In fact, the state government has been following the path of PPP in infrastructure based projects and citizen centric projects to give boost to  e-Governance for better governance.

Such projects include SWAN, Land Records, Property Registration, Transport, School  Education The projects in pipeline are SWAN-Horizontal, CSC, SDC, Police, Excise and Taxation and e-District.

There are several state Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) that are already implemented in Punjab. What are the key outcomes?

After successful pilots, the Punjab government is implementing two state Mission Mode  Projects (MMPs) namely Land Records, Property Registration as part of the horizontal  replication programme of Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India in the state.

Out of 153, two Tehsils have already been made live for issuance of nakals for land records and all tehsils would be live by March’09.

We have observed that negative bidding is becoming a trend in acquiring government tenders. What are your comments?

In my view a company bids negatively where it is totally confi dent that it will be able to earn  suffi ciently from the project and there is nothing wrong in doing so.

This will not adversely affect the level of services delivery to the citizens since Service Level  Agreements (SLAs) clearly specify all the criteria regarding this.

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