Budget is not a constraint for any IT project in Chhattisgarh : Aman Singh, CEO, CHiPS Chhattisgarh, India

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Aman Singh

Chhattisgarh, earlier a part of the state of Madhya Pradesh (India), came into being on November 1, 2000. Despite being a new state, Government of Chhattisgarh is taking many e-Government initiatives to deliver significant benefits to citizens and businesses. It has come out with IT and ITES Policy and is first state in India to design a comprehensive roadmap for e-Governance.

Chhattisgarh Government is framing an e-Government Road Map for the State. Could you share a few of its highlights?


ChhattisgarhI am very happy to share with you that Chhattisgarh is the first State in India which is systematically developing an IT Road Map. The task of framing an e-Government Road Map has been initiated in order to identify the various IT needs and priorities of the departments. In phase 1 of the e-Government Road Map, the e-Government Vision, e-Government Strategy and e-Government Blueprint are being prepared. A series of meetings with departments have been held as a part of visioning exercise. Currently, the second round of meetings with the departments is being conducted as a part of strategy exercise. The draft e-Government Vision document has been prepared and is in the last stage of finalisation.

 The Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the e-Government Road Map deals with e-Government Program and e-Government Ecosystem respectively which would be taken up subsequently.

With all the IT projects in pipeline, can you explain how these are going to help the Government? Will these projects reduce the operation costs of the Government in the future?

The IT projects are definitely helpful for the Government as they increase the transparency of information and working efficiency of the Government employees. With more and more information being made available to the citizens, the working of the Government gets more and more prompt and reliable. Chhattisgarh is a State with no historical legacy and Government as a policy has encouraged automation and outsourcing wherever possible. Establishment cost in Chhattisgarh is one of the lowest for any State in India. It is only through leveraging technology we can increase our productivity and curtail the cost.

How is the State government encouraging public-private partnership?

Public-Private Partnership is being thought of for all the upcoming IT projects being planned for the State. Currently, CHOiCE project uses an entrepreneurship model where local people become small entrepreneurs. e-tendering projects is being implemented on a PPP model. eProcurement is the first state wide project to be  implemented on a PPP model. We also intend to implement our ambitious Chhattisgarh State Wide Area Network project on PPP model.

How do you ensure ‘quality of service delivery’ by private players in PPP initiatives? What are the monitoring and evaluation measures to ensure quality, credibility and reliablity of e-Services provided through private parties?

The State wide IT projects being enormous in size, the Private Party who bids for the work need to prove its credibility in efficient offering of such services with a clear proven track record. Moreover, since CHiPS (a team of IT professionals) is the State Nodal Agency for implementation of IT projects in the State, a continuous monitoring would be done through CHiPS in order to ensure the quality of service delivery. Since the monitoring and evaluation measures are project based, a detailed structure and mechanism is being developed in order to ensure the delivery in the scheduled time by the private parties. For our future IT initiatives, the Service Level Agreement (SLA) would be well structured and quantifiable. The implementation of future IT projects would necessarily include an independent third party audit.

What are the approaches of Chhattisgarh Government in terms of IT architecture, business process re-engineering and capacity building while proceeding towards e-Government?


CHiPSThe departmental architecture compo-nents in Chhattisgarh are extensible and scalable to adapt to the changing environments. By creating a common delivery portal, the State also seeks to effectively address issues related to interoperability between departmental applications.

 The State Government recognised the need to democratise the information technology ownership, control and use. It is therefore promoting the use of open source / free software which may help State to compliment / supplement proprietary software for lowering the cost of IT ownership without compromising the quality of the application.

  With regard to Government Process Reengineering, I must state that it is most fundamental to any automation process and needs to be done by involving all stakeholders. In my personal opinion, too much and too less of Government Process Reengineering are equally disastrous. Government Process Reengineering needs to be of the optimum level.


Major IT projects initiated by the Government of Chhattisgarh
a) CHOiCE (Online G2C Services)
CHOiCE is an acronym for CHhattisgarh Online Information for Citizen Empowerment. CHOiCE provides one stop solution for, anywhere anytime based secured services for all the requirements of citizen. This project deals with online disbursement of Government services to the citizens and it is one of the most comprehensive solution covering 130 services, which include issuance of certificates, electronic payment, information on schemes, MIS etc. The project uses state of the art technology with digital signatures and biometric security devices. CHOiCE is presently being operated in Raipur and would be rolled out in the remaining districts of the State.

b) Gyan Vinimay (e-classroom)
The project takes an integrated view of the e-learning system where online lectures and onsite training are synergized. Under this project a very high bandwidth video conferencing connectivity between IIT Kanpur and Engineering Colleges of the State have been established. Depending on the faculty shortage and the expertise shortage, classes are held by the faculties of IIT Kanpur for local students. Similarly, faculties from these engineering colleges are being sent for training in IIT Kanpur for their skill up gradation. Already 129 online sessions benefiting 640 students and 55 days of onsite programs benefiting 146 faculty members have been achieved.

c) Bhuiyan (Online Land Records)
This project deals with the automation of the land records of Khasra and Bangalore One. The work has been completed and around 0.3 million records have been distributed till date. The online mutation work is currently being taken up and would be in place within a year. Chhattisgarh has done digitisation of 70% of its maps and in the next three months, digitised maps would also be issued online.

d) e-Gram Suraj
This project deals with online availability of village information upto the sarpanch level. The information is made available through Simputers and at the same time data is entered into simputers and made available to the blocks and state headquarters. The project has been implemented in two Blocks and would be rolled out in other Blocks subsequently.

e) eProcurement
The State intends to implement eProcurement in all the departments of the State to capture whole purchase cycle from cradle to grave in the automated mode. The implementation of eProcurement is now in the pilot stage in the five departments of the State viz., Chhattisgarh State Industrial Development Corporation (CSIDC), Health Department, Public Works Department (PWD), Water Resources Department (WRD) and Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board (CSEB). The project would be rolled out in other departments subsequently. Departmental studies have been conducted for the various process reforms needed and the final Request for Proposal (RFP) would be coming out in a months time.

f) State Wide Area Network
The State is in the process of implementing a very ambitious project of developing State Wide Area Network (SWAN). The proposed network is going to be a hybrid network using leased line, VSAT and Wi-Max technology. The Government of India has already given in principle approval for funding the above project under national e-Governance action plan. The total estimated cost of the project is around Rs.150 crores, out of which Rs.80 crores is to be given by Government of India in form of grant. The methodology adopted by Government of Chhattisgarh for implementation of this project is going to be a Public-Private Partnership model.

g) Geographic Information System (GIS)
The State has developed a very comprehensive GIS system having 37 layers. Using satellite data, natural resource mapping has been carried out on 1:50,000 scales based on satellite imageries and digital processing.

 With regard to Capacity Building, the Government of Chhattisgarh has given focused attention. A part of this strategy, the initiatives on capacity building focuses not only the top most layer of the administrative machinery pyramid i.e., the political executive but also the humble Class IV employees of the Government. In a very ambitious training programme, whole Government machinery including the political executives, senior bureaucrats and whole class of Government employees including Class IV have been imparted computer training. In order to increase the capacities of the college students, e-classroom has been rolled out. For the benefit of school children a very ambitious programme of creating “Centre of Excellence” for imparting education in each of the district head quarters has been started. This “Center of Excellence” has the sixty seater state-of-the-art laboratory for imparting IT education to school children.

Do you envision any advantage being derived from the recently announced National e-Government Plan (NeGP) of India?


Since the e-Governance issue is being taken up at the National Level by the Department of IT under the National eGovernance Plan, the States would be highly benefited in terms of funding, project expertise and the various ground work exercises. Also, since all the States are implementing e-Governance projects, a good knowledge repository would be readily available facilitating the States to decide on the right technology and right implementation partner for its implementations. It is worthwhile to note here that horizontal and vertical sharing of knowledge are equally important.

What is the allocated e-Government budget for Chhattisgarh this fiscal year? What are your budgetary plans for future?


Let me tell you very frankly that budget is not a constraint for any IT project in Chhattisgarh as the State is financially well managed. This is a clear directive from the Hon’ble Chief Minister himself.

  With regard to the e-Readiness survey, while respecting the ranking, I must confess that certain criteria like exports figure and number of IT units etc are militate against a young and a tribal State like Chhattisgarh.

Chhattisgarh is projected as Average Achiever in the eReadinesss survey 2004 done by DIT. Are you satisfied with the progress of the State? Which areas do you plan to focus on, in coming years, to take Chhattisgarh forward?

Chhattisgarh is a new State and most of its population lives in tribal areas. Almost 44% of the State area is under forest and the other areas of Chhattisgarh are yet to be developed. Owing to these constraints, implementation of IT is a challenging task for us. With regard to the e-readiness survey, while respecting the ranking, I must confess that certain criteria like exports figure and number of IT units etc are militate against a young and a tribal State like Chhattisgarh. In my personal view, IT has two components. While the first component deals with export figures where the southern states and Delhi are doing remarkably well, the second component deals with leveraging IT for improving Governance. Chhattisgarh is doing remarkably well in the second component and in the next couple of years would be ranked among the front line States in India.

At present, the focus is to build a strong institutional framework in order to sustain the eGovernance projects being initiated. The Individual based decision-making is being transformed into an institution-based decision making so as to ensure continuity and uniformity in the process of ensuring sustainable working of eGovernance projects.

What are the key challenges you are facing in introducing e-Government in Chhattisgarh?

Chhattisgarh being mostly a tribal State, the availability of right skilled personnel for the right task is a key challenge. Also, the mindset and attitude of the Government staff to shift from the existing manual working system to an electronic working system is a slow transformation process as it involves change management. The terrain of Chhattisgarh is also a key challenge as nearly 44% of the State is under thick forest cover. With all these hurdles and constraints, Chhattisgarh is taking smart and innovative strides under the able leadership of our Hon’ble Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh.

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