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Pilots are in the last leg for e-District, a G2C project that aims to make e-Governance up to village level a reality

E-District, one of the important mission mode project (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan  (NeGP) of India, is the application of technology in governance from district level downwards. Since a majority of government-to-citizens (G2C) services are delivered at the district level, it is envisaged under this project to build front-ends in the form of citizen facilitation centres at district, tehsil, sub-division and block levels. Village-level front-ends will be established through common services centres (CSCs) for delivery of services. The G2C services that are planned to be delivered through e-District include, among others, issuance of caste, marriage, income and employment certificates, pensions, ration cards and filing of cases in revenue courts.

The project has tremendous impact for the citizens since it is a G2C project that impacts the common rural people, who otherwise have to run to different officials for getting their work done. The project will also help in facilitating district administration to efficiently monitor the functioning of various departments and help in generating efficient MIS for better decision making to district administration officials

According to Abhishek Singh, Director, e-Governance, Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India, who is also heading this MMP, “e-District is an application system that will leverage and utilise the infrastructure pillars under NeGP like SWAN (the secure network) and CSC (the front-end delivery channel) to deliver services to citizens at their doorsteps.”

The project focuses on IT enablement of internal processes of service delivery through business process re-engineering, automation of workflow and internal processes of district administration, providing easy access and quality services to common man through CSCs. It bring about seamless integration of various departments for providing services to citizens by integrating various district databases and creation of ICT infrastructure for rolling out of e-Governance plans right up to the sub-division and block and circle levels.

Implementation strategy

The e-District project envisages centralised architecture at the state level with common application software for all the districts of the state, residing at the state data centre (SDC). Citizens will access Web-enabled services at CSCs. Applications developed during the pilot phase will be re-used in other states. The project seeks to redesign government processes to ensure significant process simplification and value addition for citizens.

The project gives emphasis to identification and prioritisation of services to be enabled on the basis of volume of transactions. Further, service levels for each service have to be determined by the state as part of the detailed project report (DPR) and only those services where the service levels determined meet the criteria of improvement in the quality of service delivery are to be included. Program management units are planned at national, state and district levels to enable implementation of the project in a time bound manner.

For ensuring delivery of services in the long term as also addition of new services when the demand for e-services increases, an effective transaction-based revenue sharing arrangement during the operation and maintenance phase among all stakeholders i.e., the outsourced solution provider, district e-Governance societies (DeGS), CSCs, SCAs and state designated agencies is being envisaged. During the operational phase, a part of the revenue earned is payable to the district collector and his team, who achieve their targets, as an incentive. This will not only build motivation but also enable faster implementation.

Current status and budget

e-District project is being implemented in two phases. In phase 1, pilots are being undertaken covering few districts of a state and in phase 2, the project will be rolled out across the state, subsequent to the approval of the national rollout scheme.

Currently e-District pilot project is being implemented in 15 states covering 40 districts. These states are Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Mizoram, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Uttarkhand, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Pilot projects have gone live in Uttar Pradesh and Assam and partially in Tamil Nadu and Bihar. Remaining states are expected to complete the pilot projects by September 2010.

Abhishek Singh
Director, e-Governance, DIT, Government of India

“e-District is an application that will leverage the infrastructure pillars under NeGP to deliver services to citizens at their doorsteps”

The pilot projects are being implemented at a cost of Rs 121.8 crore. The estimated total project cost for the national rollout includes among other things, the cost of detailed project report preparation, IT infrastructure, application software, capacity building, rollout, programme and project management, awareness and communication. The estimated cost of implementation per district is approximately Rs 3 crore.

State updates

Uttar Pradesh: The e-District project is being implemented in six districts, namely Gautambudh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Sitapur, Rae Bareli and Sultanpur. The state is first to make headway in the state-wide rollout of the e-District project. There is a directive by Chief Minister Mayawati that e-District project should be speedily started in the remaining 65 districts.

Government of UP has established a Jan Sewa Kendra (similar to CSCs) in each of the districts for providing integrated citizen centric services. For rural masses, it has been decided to open the Jan Sewa Kendra for every six villages in each district. Also, services can be obtained from the tehsil headquarter of any of these six districts. Through the e-District project, the citizens of six districts are getting 18-22 services from Jan Sewa Kendras. The State has a web portal, which is a one stop solution for complete information on the services under e-District project.

Madhya Pradesh: It has chosen five districts to pilot the e-District project and provide integrated citizen centric services in the district. The identified districts are Guna, Gwalior, Indore, Sagar and Shivpuri.

Says Anurag Jain, Secretary to CM and Secretary, IT, Madhya Pradesh: “The e-District project will help create an electronic workflow system for the district administration and provide efficient individual department services through CSCs, Samadhan Ek Din centres, MP-Online kiosks, which will be the primary front-end channels as envisaged in the project.”

Kerala: e-District project is being implemented by the Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM) in the districts of Palakkad and Kannur for the implementation of the project. According to Dr. Ajay Kumar, Principal Secretary, IT, Kerala, the 2,200 Akshaya CSCs, which act as the delivery outlet for e-District project, serve the project favourably. The Government of Kerala has constituted various committees for the implementation of the project, like the State Project Committee with the Chief Secretary as the Chairperson, State Level Technical Committee with Director KSITM as Chairperson and district level e-Governance committees chaired by the respective district collectors. Periodic review meetings are held to assess the progress of implementation and recommend course correction, if any.

Gujarat: Though Gujarat is not in the list of the states where e-District Pilots are undertaken, the district-level e-Governance is a high priority item for the state government. According to Dr Neeta Shah, Director, e-Governance, Gujarat, all collectorate offices in the Gujarat have already been computerised and the state government has announced the Citizens’ Charter, covering over 70 essential citizens’ services.

Karnataka: As part of the exercise to initiate the e-District project, the Government of Karnataka has made many of the services rendered in Nemmadi (CSC) centres into over-the-counter services in Dakshina Kannada and Ramanagaram districts, to begin with. Simultaneously, backend digitisation of data in the revenue offices was taken up. The state government now plans to ramp up this initiative to the remaining 28 districts after digitising the backend data and integrating the backend offices.

Anurag Jain
Secretary to Chief Minister and Secretary, IT, Government of Madhya Pradesh

“The project will help create an electronic workflow system for district administrations to provide efficient services”

Lessons from pilots

There have been several valuable learnings that have been identified from the pilot implementations, across States. These include requirement of detailed analysis for selection of services; overcoming the ownership issues and other challenges; need for a clear cut roadmap for moving from a hybrid process to a fully automated service delivery scenario, and tighter monitoring of service levels.

On the basis of these, DIT is in the process of finalising the National Rollout Scheme and the projects under national rollout in all 600 districts are expected to be completed and the benefits are likely to begin one year after the approval of the Scheme.

Business process re-engineering is very important in the national and state wide rollout of the project. Amod Kumar, Special Secretary Revenue, Government of UP, has noted that without changing the rules, laws and manuals the project would be messed up in legal battles. Also, the processes need to be simplified. As different states have different set of laws dealing with these matters, ‘one size fits all’ may not work successfully. But formulating a model process, and giving it to the states with the choice to modify it as per their needs, would save a lot of effort on the part of states.

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