June 2015

Where IT Grows in the Lap of Nature

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Sunil Kumar Barnwal

Sunil Kumar Barnwal,
Principal Secretary-IT, Government of Jharkhand

The National eGovernance Programme (NeGP) is largely successful in Jharkhand, as the State has created most of the core IT infrastructure for the purpose,says Sunil Kumar Barnwal, Principal Secretary-IT, Government of Jharkhand, in an interview with Gautam Debroy of Elets News Network (ENN)

What led to the creation of Jharkhand Agency for Promotion of Information Technology?

The Jharkhand Agency for Promotion of Information Technology or JAP-IT is an agency created under the Department of Information & Technology, Government of Jharkhand. It was conceptualised to accelerate the growth of IT in Jharkhandand implement policies of the State Government in the field of IT. Since its inception, it has been implementing various IT infrastructure projects in the State of Jharkhand.

The broad objectives of JAP-IT are to provide IT inputs to the government departments and agencies and to assist them in computerisation and networking, to co-ordinate with investors and industry,trade organisations and financial institutions in public and private sector. That way, this is the nodal agency in implementing various eGovernance and IT projects in Jharkhand.

It is geared up to implement the projects assigned to it, and successfully disseminated information with regard to the strides made by the Department of IT, Jharkhand through participation in various exhibitions, seminars, etc., among the leading IT players of the country, thereby attracting them to the State.

How successful is the National eGovernance Programme (NeGP) in Jharkhand?

NeGP in Jharkhand is successful to a large extent, because under the programme we have created most of the core infrastructures. Only in the case of having a data centre, we are somewhat lagging behind, but we are using our alternative centres. Jharkhand is one of the few states which have launched the State Wide Area Network (SWAN). We are trying to do all government works through the eGovernance mechanism. In fact, Jharkhand is the first state where biometric attendance system was implemented. We have already put in place the integrated financial system module.

We can proudly say that our government has been trying its best to develop its IT front, and have met with success to a great extent.

smart cityThere are several places in Jharkhand where the fruits of IT are yet to reach. Are you giving any special attention to those remote areas of the State?

Yes, there are several challenges. Jharkhand is one such state, which is with a large forest cover.There are threats of Left wing extremism and the terrain is also very hilly. So, there are certainly a few challenges with regard to reaching out to the people located in remote areas due to net connectivity-related issues.

We are following the (smart city)initiative undertaken by the Central Government. In fact,three cities, namely Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad, have been selected to be developed as smart cities in the State

However, to a large extent, we have solved these issues with the use of SWAN and Common Service Centers (CSCs). We are now trying to adopt alternative solutions. We are also trying to get connected through V-Sat.

In short, we have accepted these challenges and are trying our best to solve it. In our bid to reach out to the remotest corners of Jharkh and, we have gone beyond NeGP through the use of our own resources.

As far as attracting IT investment is concerned,we are trying to develop some IT parks.We have a Software Technology Park at Ranchi.A similar IT park has also been proposed at Jamshedpur, Dhanbad and a few other places. In fact, the new government led by Chief Minister Raghubar Das has been supporting the different IT initiatives and has directed the department to make IT central to the governance.We are going to get a good chunk of land for having IT city in the capital of Jharkhand. So, lots of initiatives have been made and people will definitely get their benefits over a period of time.

What is your take on the concept of smart cities?

We are following the initiative undertaken by the Central Government. In fact, three cities, namely Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad, have been selected to be developed as smart cities in the State.Of course, we will be waiting for the allocation of resources by the Centre, but with the help of Urban Development Department of the State, we have already started work on several IT applications for municipal services, city administrations, etc.

In fact, the Government of India through NIC has approved a pilot project for Ranchi Municipal Corporation—eMunicipality—to improve municipal administration.

Smart city is one such area where the IT and Urban Development departments would work together. In Jharkhand, while large areas are under forest cover, there are also industrial areas,and around those industrial areas are located several urban settlements. In such a scenario,smart city becomes a big priority for the State.

Do you face any financial crunch while implementing your IT projects?

More than the financial constraint, we face capacity constraint. Therefore, our focus is more on creating capacity, which includes capacity of the government, government officials as well as the capacity of resources. As far as the budget part is concerned, we have a substantial budget allocation for IT implementation in the State.

When we talk about challenges, there are several IT projects, which can have lots of investments. For that, we are also framing some policies which would be investor-friendly, so that they (IT companies) feel inclined to come to Jharkhand.

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