Govt announces high-tech measures for efficiency in MNREGA
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the creation of a biometric database of all workers covered under its flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme and to use it to authenticate work applications, work-site attendance and wage payments. He made the announcement at a function held to mark five years of the launch of MNREGA. The step is being taken with an aim to decrease the malpractices in the scheme including bogus I-cards, delayed payments and fake payments as was rightly put by the PM, “We hope it will substantially reduce instances of discrimination in work allocation, delayed payments and bogus muster rolls.” The Prime Minister also expressed concern over problems in implementation of MNREGA in Naxal-affected areas. He announced that the government will establish a technical unit, comprising a panchayat development officer and a junior engineer, in each gram panchayat.
Andhra becomes the first state to get biometric authentication cards
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy launched the Aadhar-based smart cards in Maheswaram Mandal, which is about 24 km from Hyderabad. Maheswaram became the first revenue division in the country to use the biometric authentication cards. The CM stated that around 11,000 households in the area are being aimed to be provided with ration on the basis of these cards and it will also be helpful in availing a number of other welfare schemes and services of the government.
According to the State Civil Supplies Minister, D Sridhar Babu, 11,000 households had been identified and brought under the Aadhar smart card scheme. “The biometrics of these families have been captured and these people will be given the cards which will be useful not only for drawing ration but for arogya sri (health insurance scheme), scholarships (for backward class students) and various other schemes. The government hopes to distribute the cards in the entire state within six to eight months,” D Sridhar Babu said.
Andhra Pradesh bags international contracts in e-Governance
Andhra Pradesh has finalised agreements with governments of Mauritius, Poland and Israel for transfer of technology related to e-Governance. The state government would soon enter into agreements with these countries in this regard, the Information Technology Minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah said.
Multi-purpose National Identity Cards for Orissa fishermen
Altogether 36,500 fishermen in 228 coastal villages in Orissa will be provided Multi-purpose National Identity Cards as a preventive measure against infiltration. The exercise is being conducted jointly by the National Population Registrar (NPR), Ministry of Home Affairs and the state government’s marine fisheries department. The I-cards would provide nationality, professional and legal proof and lead to easy detection of infiltrators, masquerading as fishermen.
“The enumeration and data entry work has ended. Photography and fingerprint biometric work for issue of the National Multipurpose Identity Cards is on full swing in infiltration prone coastal Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts,” Assistant Director of Fisheries (Marine) Rabi Narayan Pattnaik, said.
The enumerators have gathered information such as genealogical order of the family, nativity status and fingerprints of those aged above 18. The Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) is now carrying out photography and related technical jobs.
India-funded telemed centre to link nepal, Lucknow and Chandigarh
The SAARC Telemedicine Centre has been established in Kathmandu village. This initiative is a result of the promise made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the 13th SAARC Summit, way back in the year 2005. The centre aims to link all the top institutions in Lucknow and Chandigarh.
Nepal’s caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal Friday inaugurated the telemedicine centre at Patan Hospital in Lalitpur, set up with an Indian assistance of nearly 4.8 crore Nepalese rupees, under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) project.
India is fully funding the project to set up telemedicine network in the entire SAARC region as part of the assurance given by Manmohan Singh, a statement by the Indian embassy in Kathmandu said. The Lalitpur telemedicine centre, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for which was signed in 2009, will enable the host institution to receive consultation and Continuing Medical Education (CME) services from select hospitals in SAARC countries. From India, such services would be provided by the super-specialty Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow, and the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh. Nepal has special ties with the Chandigarh institute.
Besides the telemedicine centre, a SAARC teleeducation centre is being established at the National Centre for Education Development in Nepal’s Bhaktapur district.
national Broadband plan to connect 160m homes
The National Broadband plan aims to connect 160 million Indian households with high-speed Internet connections by 2014, as stated by the Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal. The broadband plan would focus on framing a policy that balances consumer affordability and service provider’s economic sustainability. Therefore, additional optic fibre would have to be laid along with leveraging existing wireless infrastructure.
Kapil Sibal consulted key stakeholders including telecom regulator TRAI, industry chambers, mobile, internet, cable and PCO service providers and their associations apart from Rail-Tel, Power Grid Corporation and officials from information and broadcasting ministry on telecom related policy issues.
Earlier this month, Sibal announced a 100-day agenda for taking concrete steps towards finalisation of the broadband plan. As per the plan, optical fibre network will be treated as a national resource and will be equally available to concerned stakeholders for providing broadband services. The government aims at inclusive growth through broadband as education, medical treatment and entertainment related applications would be extensively used, besides enabling e-Governance and citizen-centric services particularly in the rural areas.