August 2014

Upholding an e-Refined Approach

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Rajesh Kumar

Rajesh Kumar
Principal Secretary, Water Supply and Sanitation Department, Government of Maharashtra

Rajesh Kumar shares his insights on the potential of e-Governance platforms and departmental initiatives in an interaction with Kartik Sharma & Veena Kurup of ENN

Can you brief us about the e-Governance approach adopted by your department?

e-Governance is a vibrant platform for escalating the scope of administrative, management and governance practices. The evolution in technology has considerably aided enhancement of the scope of operational functions. The contribution of these technologies towards governing institutions has also been commendable over the years. The Department of Water Supply and Sanitation has actively adopted this pace of technical innovations and keeps exploring the varied modes of IT and ICT-enabled practices. The department is already practising and following different e-modes of operation like e-Office, e-Leaves and e-Knowledge practices.
We have also focussed on taking our operational data online on real-time basis The department is also working on making the website more user-friendly. Our aim is to constantly follow and adopt more such active opportunities, which can enhance our operational services to citizens and the level of transparency in our functions.

Please tell us about the Jalswarajya initiative?

One of the major steps streamlined for the citizens by the department is the Jalswarajya-II project. The Government of India, Government of Maharashtra and the World Bank have signed a US$165 million credit agreement to help Maharashtra achieve the vision of ensuring safe drinking water and improved sanitation services, especially for rural communities. The objective of the programme is to improve the performance of the state’s institutions in planning, implementation and monitoring of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme to improve access to quality and sustainable services in peri-urban villages, and in waterdeficient and water quality-affected areas. The project to be executed over a period of six years (2014-2020) is the first of its kind programme- for-results operation in India.
Earlier, the Jalswarajya-I project, which was implemented during the period 2003-2009, benefited 6.7 million people with improved water services, and about 61 percent of Gram Panchayats in the project area have become open defecation free. The Jalswarajya-II project is expected to further extend this success benchmarks to new heights.

How does the department tackle the rural implementation challenge?

The beneficiaries of such initiatives are scattered across the state and rural areas are one of the vital locations for such initiatives. Establishing connectivity, availability of infrastructure facilities, trained workforce and live communication networks were the major hurdles faced at such locations. The department, however, is constantly focussed towards overcoming such hurdles by gradually resolving these concerns.

How has IT contributed in the success of your department activities?

IT and such evolving technologies have evidently helped in enhancing the success of our departmental initiatives. Today, we have most of our data on web-based platforms, even monitoring of the services is being undertaken online.
The response and participation from the citizens and users has been positive and encouraging. The Operation & Maintenance activities are also being undertaken with the assistance of such evolving technologies. These vibrant platforms have helped us in considerably reducing the cost involved with human resource utilisation.

What is your vision for enhancing these initiatives through e-platform?

eGovernance and such platforms are always crucial for achieving transparent and efficient governance patterns. The department aims to utilise and leverage the scope of implementation of such platforms to achieve productive outputs.
We are also planning to initiate utilising these technologies in water quality monitoring systems. These processes are ongoing and dynamic in nature and will be adopted as per the requirements.

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