Interview

Enhancing Sustainability of CSCs : Raj Kumar, Government of Gujarat

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Raj Kumar
Secretary, IT & Science City, Department of Science & Technology, Government of Gujarat


“More than 90 percent of the CSCs have been completed in terms of installation of computers, furnitures and appointment of the operators by respective Service Center Agency (SCA) in four regions of the state”

The State Wide Area Network (SWAN) project has been in place in Gujarat for the last six years, so what has been its impact on delivering the services so far?

Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN) project has been the foundation of successful implementation of several other important e-Governance projects such as, Value Added Tax Information System, Land record information system and Record of Right (RoR) at village, State Wide Attention of Grievances by Application of Technology (SWAGAT), Gujarat Ration Card Computerisation, Health Management and Information System (HMIS). As a matter of fact, due to availability of GSWAN, all of the aforesaid projects could be rolled out in a very short time span of 3 to 9 months across the State and e-Governance applications were made operational in the District and Block level offices of the Revenue Department, Health Department, Commissioner of Commercial Taxes.

In Gujarat, State Data Centre (SDC) is already underway in the region of Gandhinagar with an estimated cost of INR 100 Crore. What is the status of other regions on SDC?

Gujarat State Data Centre (GSDC) has been operationalised since October, 2008. Currently, we are in the process of shifting the existing e-Governance application servers from Server Farm area to the aforesaid State Data Centre facility. Further, we have suggested to other line departments of the government to plan out their server rack requirements and convey the same to us, so that rack space could be allotted to them in the State Data Centre. Also, we are in the process of issuing tender bid for selection of Operations and Management (O&M) agency for GSDC.

Six more Satellite Data Centres are also being planned in Gujarat, what is the roadmap in terms of when and how will these Satellite Data Centres get operational?

On the same lines as the Satellite Data Centres (SDC) in the State capital at Gandhinagar, Government of Gujarat has also set up 3 Mini Data Centres at Mehsana, Rajkot and Vadodara; while there is plan to set up a fourth Mini Data Centre at Surat in due course. Basic purpose behind setting up these Mini Data Centres in the above mentioned prominent regions of the state has been to provide reliable infrastructure for running localised applications and providing online services to urban and rural citizens of the respective regions. For instance, citizen centric services that would be delivered through Common Service Centres (CSCs) can now be provided through these servers, physically located in the Mini Data Centres.

Total number of Common Service Centres (CSCs) proposed for Gujarat is 6,000. How many out of these are already operating and by when can we expect to see all of these CSCs  functional? 

As against the norms laid down by the Government of India for setting up of  CSC in one out of six villages, Government of Gujarat has  decided to set up CSC in one out of three villages. Consequently, Government of Gujarat through the Panchayat Department, has decided to set up 6,000 CSCs across the state. So far more than 90 percent of the CSCs have been completed in terms of installation of computers, furnitures and appointment of the operators by respective Service Centre Agency (SCA) in four regions of the state.

Gujarat was aiming to provide extensive services  such as issuing caste certificates, widow certificates, integration of insurance schemes through Common Service Centres (CSCs). How far have these services been achieved?

As per the Common Service Centre (CSC) scheme envisaged by the Government of India, such centres are expected to earn a minimum of one-third of their revenue out of the delivery of government services to the citizens. While Gram Panchayat level services such as registration of caste,  income, birth and death are already operational; so far only one block/district level service relating to the land records has been made accessible through CSC.

In order to expand the gamut of citizen centric services through CSCs, we have already developed the prototype of Gujarat Portal and service delivery gateway. Currently, we are in the process of starting the pilot run of the Gujarat Portal which has already incorporated more than 50 citizen centric services of various line departments of the state government. Once pilot run is successful, we will roll out the same across the state.

In various e-Governance projects there is often a need for collaboration with private players. How has been your experience with private players in terms of partnership and performance so far?

As a matter of fact, most of the citizen centric e-Governance projects implemented by the Government of Gujarat have been executed in collaboration with private sector players.  GSWAN, city civic centre, registration of property and e-Gram projects have been executed in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode, while other e-Governance projects have been implemented through private players on outsourcing basis. Our experience in the implementation of these e-Governance projects through private sector has been quite good so far.

In the implementation of the various e-Governance projects, what do you think have been the major roadblocks?

In the implementation of various e-Governance projects, we have come across several hurdles. For instance high attrition rate of technical manpower, limited tenure of project leader besides perceptible gap between the person’s knowledge of governance and technology. For overcoming these hurdles we are also implementing the capacity building project for the government staff.

What are the other e-Governance projects in the pipeline for the year 2009?

Besides Gujarat Portal and Service Delivery Gateway Project, Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) and Home Department’s integrated IT solution are other major projects in the pipeline for 2009. 

Highlights

  • GSWAN enabled the roll out of e-governance projects in a time span of 3 to 9 months
  • Tender bids for selection of Operations and Management (O & M) agency for GSDC to be issued soon
  • Setting up CSC in one out of three villages
  • 90 percent of the CSCs have been completed in four regions of the state
  • City civic centre, registration of property and e-Gram projects have been executed
  • Projects for 2009: Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) and Home Department’s integrated IT solution

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