“SDC is one of the most sophisticated component of the e-Governance project in India for which experts with specific skill sets such as security, software, hardware are required. Besides these, managing the entire activities of different departments of the government is also crucial,” says Dr. Kshatrapati Shivaji, Secretary IT, Government of Maharashtra
Where do you see Maharashtra in its journey towards e-Readiness?
Our basic objective is to enable the government to provide services to the citizen online. Instead of people coming to the government offices the government will go to their regions at any point of time and from anywhere. This way the government will provide online solutions for all the government transactions.
The journey towards e-Readiness has been quite successful. Few department’s have already been computerised. In local bodies such as Birhanmumbai Municipal Corporation, services are being delivered online for about dozen services. In the sales tax department, the process has started for filing of returns. We are moving forward with e-Payment gateway through treasury and finance departments. Likewise, we are at the final stage of the completion of land records department. All the records have been computerised and now the transactions are also being made available online. In the second stage, the integration of the land records and registration departments will be completed. Both the departments are now fully computerised. Once the e-Payment gateway transaction portal is established, the services will be provided online.
Please share with us the current status of State Data Centre (SDC) and State Wide Area Network (SWAN) in Maharashtra.
State Data Centre (SDC) is another significant digital governance component for which we have the approval from the Government of India. This will be one of the most advanced data centre. In all probability, by the end of this year SDC project will be completed.
Maharashtra State Wide Area Network (SWAN) is one of the most important projects under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). The work order has been given and its implementation has started. It will be implemented by ITI and SPANCO. More than 90 percent of the sites have already been taken over for the points of presence (POPs) up to taluka headquarters. The project will be operational by the end of this year.
Please share with us the various challenges that you are facing in implementing the SDC in Maharashtra. How do you plan to overcome these challenges?
The SDC is the most important nuclear part of the e-Governance infrastructure which requires professionals with highly specialised and sophisticated skill sets. Within the government, these types of skill sets are not available. Therefore, there are structural constraints in the government for attracting highly skilled and sophisticated professionals who can cater to these requirements.
We are going ahead with the framework approved under the Capacity Building Scheme. We will be hiring persons (skilled) from the private sector and the market. Through this scheme, we are trying to bring efficient persons on deputation basis from within the government and different private companies. Nevertheless, the skill set is one of the major challenges for establishing and managing the data centres.
How is your state technically equipped to manage the complexities of SDC?
SDC is one of the most sophisticated component of the e-Governance project in India for which experts with specific skill sets such as security, software, hardware are required. Besides these, managing the entire activities of different departments of the government is also crucial. Therefore, under capacity building scheme we are planning to bring people on deputation from the market or appoint consultants who can provide uninterrupted supply of the required skill sets.
Security of information is a significant aspect of SDC. How is the state of Maharashtra planning to ensure security of information in SDC?
We will be hiring highly qualified persons with sophisticated skills for the data centre management in accordance with the Capacity Building Scheme that has been approved by the Government of India recently. We will not compromise on the security of information in the data centre. Government data/information per se may not be a secret. But, if anyone tampers with the data or remove or edit the data, the entire digital governance systems will be seriously affected. Therefore, we are taking all possible precautions to ensure security through the above mentioned initiatives.
What are the latest projects being undertaken by the IT Department of Maharashtra to promote e-Governance?
Information Technology (IT) Department of Maharashtra has undertaken most of the essential components of the digital governance programme, starting with the networking of all the government offices and departments across the whole state down to the taluka level. Now our focus is on the last mile connectivity through Maharashtra SWAN (MSWAN). The second most important aspect under this plan is the Common Service Centre (CSC) for which the selection of the Service Centre Agency (SCA) for all the six revenue divisions has been finalised. Letter of Intent (LOI) has been given, Master Service Agreement (MSA) is under finalisation and will be completed shortly.
We are also implementing the SDC project in the state and in addition to this we are also making an attempt for the common payment portal for the whole state to provide a common window of services to the different departments and the citizens. Besides these initiatives all the line departments are also under computerisation starting with the sales tax, land records, registration, treasury and transport. Maharashtra is at the highest level of e-Readiness in the country and we continue to be the leader in the country as far as the IT and e-Governance are concerned and we are also taking up various projects in public distribution system and civil supplies department.
To date, what have been Maharashtra’s key achievement’s in implementing projects related to e-Governance?
The state of Maharashtra has received many awards in the past and in fact we are at an advanced stage in the implementation of e-Governance projects in most of the government departments. The Mantralaya (Secretariat) in Maharashtra is under the Local Area Network (LAN) system and a number of projects and programmes are running under the intranet applications such as the file tracking system referred to as Document Journal Management System.