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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.

Biometric cards
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.

eGov Contract
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.

Tele-medicine
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.

Broadband
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.

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