At the Seventh Round Table of the State Ministers of Panchayati Raj it was resolved that capacity of Panchayats for fulfilling their constitutionally and legislatively mandated role would be strengthened through Information Technology & Communication.The information related to this Round Table was given by Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister for Panchayati Raj,in a written reply in the Lok Sabha yesterday.
In keeping with the resolution adopted at this Seventh Round Table Conference, a proposal for extending I.T. support to all the Panchayats in the country has been formulated and is under consideration of the Government.
Information from the Resolution of the Seventh Round Table of Ministers in-charge of Panchayati Raj held at Jaipur in December, 2004, was that it was recognized that IT (Information Technology and Communication) is a vital input of capacity for Panchayats so that they can perform their constitutionally and legislatively mandated functions better. Also, it ought to be primarily positioned as a decision making support system for Panchayats themselve ;a tool for transparency, disclosure of information to citizens; social audit; and also a means for better and convergent delivery of services to citizens. Apart from it, it is also a tool for improving internal management and efficiency of Panchayats;in addition to being a source for Capacity building and e-Procurement.
In this endeavor, the Round Table specifically proposed initiatives like re-engineering;data Ownership; ensuring training of staff and Panchayati Raj members; development of common software application packages with provision for appropriate customization by states; and specifying of a framework for common standards for hardware.
In the area of 'Infrastructure and connectivity' it has been recommended that the National Informatics Centre (NIC) expands its communication network, NICNET, to link all Panchayats at all levels by using State Wide Area Network funds provided by the Department of Information Technology, Government of India. For state governments it would be possible to approach ISRO for providing satellite based connectivity in all the states to enable connectivity of all Panchayats. The initial infrastructure cost could be considered to be met or supported by an infrastructure fund operated by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
In order to ensure the operationalization of the plan, the initiative of empowering Panchayats with IT capacity shall be treated on par with creating national infrastructure such as power, telecom and roads. And in this direction it becomes important to formulate a mission mode/empowered committee for IT enabled automation of Panchayat institutions with NIC and other solution providers, keeping in view the national e-governance action plan of the Government of India.