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Leveraging Technology to Improve Citizen’s Lives

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Dr Vishwas Mehte
Principal Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management Department

Kerala’s Revenue and Disaster Management Department has undertaken numerous IT initiatives to enable people to avail online services, informs Dr Vishwas Mehta, Principal Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management Department, during an interaction with Vishwas Dass and Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN)

Throw some light on IT initiatives undertaken by the Revenue Department to improve citizen-centric services.

Kerala is one of the states which has good infrastructure, in terms of roads and communication. People are, by and large, aware about information technology (IT) innovations. So, it’s easy for us to bring in services which can reach people directly. Currently, we have around 22 types of certificates for general purposes which are issued online through village offices. Most of the village offices have best-in-class infrastructure and are well-equipped with Internet connections and round the clock electricity. We took the help of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and developed a common platform to make these certificates online. Kerala has very old revenue records., which are 50-100 years old and these are in archives. There is a need of conserving them. We set up the whole thing in a mission mode and actually using technology to simultaneously preserve and digitise the records and then put them on a virtual platform.

Apart from it, transaction of land among people in Kerala is very huge. It’s a land- starved country. People were not able to get the land mutations because of lengthy and tiring process. It requires coordination of the three departments-revenue, director of survey and registration wing. For the past many years, there has been effort in integrating all the three departments. After several rounds of meetings, we brought these three agencies under one platform with the help of NIC. We have trained close to 300 village offices by the staff in association with the IT department and now we are close to reach around 300 village offices by January-end. The number of transactions in Kerala is very different from other states. Now, people can get all land related documents swiftly, particularly mutation.

We have created a virtual IT cadre, where young and dynamic tech- savvy officers are being imparted specialised computer training. Also, we are trying to link the Revenue Department with the tax wing. People are getting dummy maps of their own properties with the help of eRekha project. Revenue Department has also projects for land banks to identify the availability of government’s land

status-barWe have also created a virtual IT cadre, where young and dynamic tech-savvy officers are being imparted with specialised computer training. Also, we are trying to link revenue department with the tax wing. People are getting dummy maps of their own properties with the help of eRekha project. Revenue Department has also projects on land bank to identify the availability of government’s land. My endeavour is to put every service online for the convenience of citizens. Today, we have cutting-edge technology that was not there 25-30 years back. We should be able to use it to improve citizens’ lives. Technology has given us so much advantage and we should be able to leverage it.

How challenging has the journey been for you to implement IT initiatives and improve citizen-centric services in Kerala?

It’s very challenging to digitise government documents as they are in huge numbers. Particularly in revenue department, the biggest challenge is to protect the government land from encroachers. Now, technology enables us to be quick and help to track them and resolve these issues.

What are the paradigm shifts that the Revenue Department has undergone? There is certainly a paradigm shift in the Revenue Department because of an extensive usage of technology. Earlier, when I was the Collector, we didn’t have the technology to digitise the documents. However, today there are latest technologies that can be optimised. Nevertheless, digitising all the data is not possible because survey and re-survey continuously go on. Thousands of certificates are being issued every day. Besides, it is quite difficult to update all records online. So, we are making concerted efforts to ensure 100 per cent updation of records. Importantly, the IT Mission has availed additional laptops at every village office to meet any exigency which is commendable and that sets us apart from other states. We are trying to make all the village offices, land revenue records, survey records, and everything concerning people digitised and made available to public.

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