Maharashtra is now counted among the leaders in e-Governance readiness in India and is poised to be the only state with single front-end delivery of 100 G2C services by next year
By Rachita Jha, egov Bureau
According to the latest e-Readiness Assessment Report for state and UTs brought out by the Ministry of Information and Technology, Maharashtra has taken a giant leap from its 2006 assessment survey to emerge as a leader state in ICT environment and readiness landscape. The state government has worked extremely hard in laying out the ICT infrastructure across the state and as the next step has now vowed to spin-off close to 100 online services to effectively leverage this enabling environment and high readiness for on-ground ICT usage within the state especially in remote areas and villages. With a series of initiatives launched in collaboration with various state departments, results are already evident with many urban and rural services now becoming available online.
Maharashtra is the first state to have its own e-Governance policy; the draft was opened for comments in January this year. Taking the initiative further, DIT, Government of Maharashtra has already got its e-Governance policy team and advisory committee to draft the detailed implementation plan to accompany the e-Governance policy guidelines.
State e-Gov policy
DIT, Government of Maharashtra has drafted e-Governance policy for the Government of Maharashtra that aims to create a standardised and seamless implementation framework of all e-Governance projects by various departments in the state.
The document illustrates the creation of a State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG) in line with the national delivery gateway being designed by Government of India to act as a middleware between the state portal and the departmental e-Governance applications. SSDG shall act as a hub for all the interactions between service seekers and various service providers. The policy also finds mention of much talked about cloud computing as a state-of-the-art service oriented architecture for various e-Governance projects and mandates interoperability and use of open standards in all e-Governance projects in the state. Overall the policy aims to weave the various components in any e-Governance project under one document for the department to follow and implement easily. With sections on capacity building, PPP models, audits, budgetary allocations and implementation guidelines, it is a step forward to have an enabling environment that assists any department to go ahead on projects successfully.
As a landmark initiative, the policy clearly states to work out a time bound approach to incorporate and encourage the use of UID for various e-Governance projects to facilitate the delivery of services to the right beneficiary. This makes it the first state to include UID in its state policy for service delivery. As the nodal agency for implementation of the UIDAI project in the state, DIT had the national launch of UIDAI project in Tembli Village of Nandurbar District in Maharashtra on 29th September, 2010. Since then, it has successfully achieved 14,73,236 enrolments, with establishment of 599 enrolment centres and 2059 enrolment stations. The state has approximately 4 lakh Aadhaar numbers generated until now.
The policy also paves way for creating a legislation framework for e-Governance. Maharashtra is the first state to draft a Mandatory Electronic Delivery of Public Services Act that empowers citizen with the right to e-Services.
Right to e-Services
Another path-breaking initiative taken by the state is the adoption of Maharashtra Mandatory Electronic Delivery of Public Services Act (MMEDPS Act) that will give every citizen in the state the right to have option of online services available —a right to e-Governance. The draft is ready and has been opened for public comments. This legislation will make it mandatory for all government officers/departments to offer online services to the citizens in the state. In the next five years the Act will enable introduction of 100 online G2C services from 44 state departments. There is also a provision for appointment of an Electronic Service Delivery Commissioner for resolution between citizens and departments and also for constraints faced by the state departments in implementation of online services. Through this Act, Maharashtra aims to step further from single window to no window for citizen services whereby citizens get digitally signed certificates without coming to the government offices. They will fill the forms online, track the status of their application and get their digital certificates, without meeting any government official. This is also mooted as one of the key steps to curb corruption in government departments by eliminating the stages of middlemen in the entire process. Taking cognizance of the initiative, the Central Government has now taken up the proceedings and will pass it as a Central Act for all the states to follow.
Tech-driven state economy
The state known for its financial capital Mumbai and growing industrial contribution is also largely dependent on agriculture for its overall state gross domestic product (SGDP). The economic survey of Maharashtra aims for an optimist 10.5 percent during the year 2010- 11, as against 8.7 percent during the previous year. And the key driver for this growth rate is said to come from the increased agricultural production that will help ‘agriculture and allied activities’ sector to grow by 12.5 percent, as against a growth of 3.1 percent in the earlier year. The state government believes that the accelerated growth rate in this sector will not only push the growth in the overall SGDP, but will also bring around 50 percent of the population under the ‘growth umbrella’ that will make the growth more inclusive. The rural kiosks have a mandate to serve as information and service delivery centres for villagers and have access to information on government schemes, agriculture market and other relevant data. Many projects have been initiated by various state departments to bring the farmer as an active participant in the growth story of Maharashtra and accelerate the state economy.
A reflection of the faith in technology tools for growth overdrive was evident in the address of H. E. Shri K Sankaranarayanan, Governor of Maharashtra at the Joint Session of Maharashtra State Legislature at Vidhan Bhavan, Mumbai early March this year. He announced the launch of Commissionerate of Agriculture sponsored under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, which is implementing an innovative ‘Crop Pest Surveillance and Advisory Project’ (CROPSAP) during the ear 2010-11. The online monitoring system for major pests in Soybean and Cotton throughout Maharashtra will assist farmers for early detection of attack of pests on the crops and suggest measures to be adopted to protect such crops through SMS. He also mentioned the issue of 75,558 smart cards to the fishermen community in the state. Fisheries have been a significant contributor of the state economy but the fishing community has largely been ignored in the earlier state development plans.
Tell us more about the novel initiative of introducing an e-Governance policy in the state by Dit, Government of Maharashtra?
The e-Governance policy is headed by a committee of experts headed by Prof Vijay Bhaktar, a well-known technocrat and pioneering work in IT. We have taken inputs also from various stakeholders, this includes all the people working in the government and also from industry including hardware and software, and finally from the general public. The draft policy is now presented in the cabinet. The policy is now due for inauguration. It is very comprehensive as it addresses a lot of common issues such as standardisation, IPR, sharing resources, emphasis on usage of Marathi language using standardised language software. We also have more focus on open source technology. The policy also paves way for a landmark Act that we have formulated called the Maharashtra Mandatory Electronic Delivery of Public Services Act (MMEDPS Act).
Maharashtra Mandatory electronic Delivery of Public services Act will be a landmark bill when introduced, what are your views?
Maharashtra Mandatory Electronic Delivery of Public Services Act (MMEDPS Act) 2011 is probably the first state in the country to have initiated the Act in the country wherein citizens have the right to demand for online services from a particular department in the government. He can also have the right to know that in what time-frame the department will deliver the services. He can then appeal to a commissioner who will look into the matter and settle the issue. The Electronic Service Delivery Commissioner will decide on a suitable time-frame for conflict resolution. The legislation also lays down a minimum time-period under which all the departments will have their own website updated with latest information to access them online. Following the website creation, they will try to make all the applications online and also include online payments in due course of time. And within three years, we look forward to an integrated environment wherein first year will have all the information available online, followed by second year in which we aim to make all transactions to be made online and in the third year we would move towards integrated environment wherein the various departments would be linked to each other to resolve all the decisions that require the citizen to interact with multiple agencies in the government. They can talk to each other and offer a single interface for the citizen on the front-end and the back-end has all the departments integrated. We would like to prioritise our services for G2C based on the scale of impact it will have on the population and affect at least one lakh citizens.
Mahaonline portal is poised to be the front-end interface of the state government. tell us more about the project and its deliverables?
We have performed well in our CSCs completion targets and as one tenth of the total roll-out numbers of CSCs, it is a major contribution to the NeGP plan. We have envisaged the portal to be a single front-end for the entire state. Here we will have all the 8500 CSCs or Maha e-Seva Kendra in the state for citizens through a single portal. They will be able to upload applications and transactions across all G2C services. The portal will deliver 96 service, operate payments through the e-Payments gateway. This is taken up from the Nanded model that has successfully done these services. No other state has so many applications available through a front-end portal. In a years time we aim to deliver 100 services online for the citizens. We are ready to launch the five e-Districts where we have completed the pilot run.
How do you plan to ensure that these cscs areviable for the villages?
All our 8500 CSCs are completely manned by entrepreneurs and are offering up to 70-90 online services. Recently we had a CSC operator who brought a nano from his earnings. So our efforts have been to make these centers viable and reliable. We have not yet reached every house but have definitely reached every village. The panchayat system is very strong in Maharashtra and we aim to integrate them with our CSCs. The next level of integration will include the availability of gram panchayat services online which lie mainly in the collectorate and tehsil offices.
DigiGov has made the Dit in Maharashtra paperless. what are your future plans on the system?
The document management system or DMS has taken a step forward from DIT and we have now taken up DMS to the entire state, wherein all the important documents will now be available on the portal. This will provide easy access to the documents and also enable a trouble-free search system for any relevant files for the officials apart from saving a lot of space. The judiciary department has come forward with the proposal to digitise all the decisions of the lower courts so that people do not have problems in accessing their orders anytime for any references. Once the history and legacy of any department in entirely digitalised only then can any department can effectively become paperless and digital office in the true sense. This coincides with our digital journey management system (DJMS) tracking system in which we can track the journey of the document as it travels across the officials in the government and we plan to take it to all the districts.
DigiGOV is already operational in the IT department and through this software all our files are now moved digitally. So our approach has been to start with the older documents so that the past has been digitised and then we integrate them into the current IT platform so that at any time for any reference the documents are all available to us. This will enable us to have a seamless integration of the system.
How have you used the biometric attendance system in the governance systems?
The biometric attendance system is being executed in all government office above 25 employees and these have now being extended to all the ashramshala and gram panchayat schools and CSCs in the state. This is announced to ensure that those who are appointed in the villages such as teachers, doctors and personnel in CSCs are available there. This technology with GPRS integration has the power to monitor the number of doctors, teachers etc. who are appointed and their regularity in these institutions.
UID project has highest number of enrollments in Maharashtra, how do you envisage the project to be used by various state departments?
We currently have the highest number of enrollments in the country and in UID numbers distribution we are currently in third position. We aim to leverage the use of UID in the food and supplies system, education systems, health and all the other departments to ensure that the right beneficiary gets the right benefit. We have also included the UID project in our e-Governance policy to ensure a department-wise integration of the same. We have announced awards and rewards for our collectors and district commissioners to increase enrollments. At the state level we have initiated a reward system with all the secretaries of departments to create UID-based applications who take the initiative to leverage the use of UID within their beneficiaries. The project will direct by benefit the government in terms of cost savings. In terms
of GDP percentage, even if we introduce UID in the food and supplies departments, health, education and pension departments we could save 4000 – 10,000 crore of money.
What are your views on the inclusion of mobile technology in the governance systems delivery models?
We surely believe in the many benefits of mobile technology and its ability to reach to remote areas much before broadband connectivity and PC penetration reached the villages. The services can be across many urban as well as rural schemes and programmes. We are using SMSs for internal communications chanels. We have an MTNL and broadcast communication to our district level offices, state ministers etc. This tool can be extended across all departments in the state. The department of education has completed their pilot on using SMSs for monitoring of the mid-day meal scheme in Pune. We aim to use mobile technology to leapfrog over the phase of PC and broadband in the villages for delivery of services in rural areas. They can access the Internet on their mobile phones it will do away with the need for PC in the villages.
The state had been aggressive in the installation of the core infrastructure deliverables under the NeGP and this has been made possible by the motivated team of empanelled consultants under the State e-Governance Mission Team
(SeMT) that constantly pursue the key result areas for the department. A round-up of the status on the infrastructure deliverables are mentioned below.
The target is to set up 11,818 Common Service Centers (CSCs) or Maha e-Seva Kendra as they are called on a Build-Own-Operate Model in Maharashtra. This is one of the largest spread of IT-enabled delivery systems among other states. In its vision to take IT services to the masses, Maharashtra Government in 2008 signed agreements with four companies to set up common service centres (CSC) in all six revenue divisions of the state. However, Nasik region now has a new SCA for the project following termination of the previous agency. The current status stands at an impressive 78 percent of the target achieved as 9,213 CSCs are rolled out in six revenue divisions across the state. Of the 11,818 Maha-e-Seva kendras that will be set up through this model, 10,483 will be in rural areas and 1,335 in urban areas. Nanded district has taken the lead in setting up a success model for other districts in delivery of 96 G2C services in a semi-automated way via CSCs. Similar model is already operational in five districts and now following evaluation from SDA has shown keenness to standardise the delivery model and be replicated across the state.
Mswan & sDcs
The Maharashtra State-wide Area Network (MSWAN) shall connect State Head Quarters with all 35 Districts, 324 Talukas and 6 Divisional Head Quarters. The status of Maharashtra State-wide Area Network (MSWAN) stands completely supported by bandwidth service providers – BSNL & Tulip. Currently the
network is established between 314 PoPs out of 359 and a Third Party Audit (TPA) is on-going. MSWAN shall be the backbone for data, voice and video communication throughout the state and would act as vehicle for effective implementation of e-Governance across the state. The network provides a secure network for data, voice and video interactions for the Maha e-Seva Kendra for information delivery. The government is now creating awareness at the district level officials to ensure that the technology is utilised for vertical integration within the government administration between state and taluka and also between departments through horizontal connectivity, such as departments of agriculture, education, land and revenue, food supplies, etc.
DIT, Government of Maharashtra is building the State Data Center for the entire state of Maharashtra for all G2C, G2B and G2G services. The Data Center shall provide facilities for various departments of Government of Maharashtra to locate their server infrastructure, obtain hosting services for the software application, manage the data center operations and disaster recovery and backup.
DIT, Government of Maharashtra is implementing the e-District project for e-Enablement of services at the Collector and Zilla Parishad offices in accordance with the guidelines of Government of India. Currently, the state is preparing for the launch of five e-District pilots in Pune, Nagpur, Latur, Nanded and Sindhudurg. In terms of G2C services, over 35 services are being delivered in a semi-automated way through the CSCs across the state. These include pdating and mutation of land records, birth and death certificate, various caste certificates, income and domicile certificates, marriage certificates, ration card services, various services under national schemes (such as National Old Age Scheme, Sanjay Gandhi Yojna, Indira Gandhi Yojna), water connection, senior citizen ID card, etc. Again, Nanded, by offering over 92 G2C services has been exemplary for the other districts.
During the e-District pilot, the delivery of 10 G2C services— income certificate; temporary residence/residence certificate; age, nationality and domicile certificate; solvency certificate; senior citizen certificate; birth registration; death registration; election related services – addition and deletion of name from voter list; and RTI information services will be looked into.
Ranking of cscs
The state has brought in a unique initiative of ranking all the districts that have rolled out CSCs in the state. To enable and promote healthy competition among districts, every month the State Designated Agency (SDA) issues rankings based on the performance of the CSC scheme in Maharashtra. The evaluation is based on the percentage rollout of Maha e-Sevakendras, number of G2C services activated and the number of
G2C service transactions completed at the Maha e-Sevakendras. Three Service Centre Agencies (SCA)—CMS Computers, Spanco Ltd. and Reliance Communications—together have rolled out 8,939 centres so far. In January 2011, Basix (Bhartiya Samruddhi Finance Ltd) too was appointed as the state’s fourth SCA, responsible for rolling out in Nashik Division. In the ranking
To enable and promote Healthy competition among districts, every month the state designated agency (sdA) issues rankings based on the performance of the csc scheme in MAHARASHTRA
system followed every month, 50 percent weightage has been allotted for the percentage rollout of Maha e-Sevakendras, 25 percent weightage for the number of G2C services activated and the rest 25 percent for the number of G2C service transactions completed through the Maha e-Sevakendras last month. From March onwards, the Department of IT in Maharashtra has started using registered numbers on the Online Monitoring Tool (OMT) for rollout of Maha e-Sevakendras in each district. This helps to validate rollout numbers, enforcing registration and uptime as metrics for considering CSC as functional. This initiative has proved to be driver for performance amongst the districts and has led to pro-active approach in not only installing ICT infrastructure in the CSCs but also ensuring that the roll-out of more G2C services take place to bring-in more benefit for the rural communities. It has led district collectors to work on improving their performance further.
The most common cause of delay in e-Governance projects remains to be the absence of skilled manpower in IT-project implementation departments that can help them to plan, execute and monitor the projects in the state. Most of the departments demand experienced and qualified personnel in executing such projects from time-to-time based on the requirements. Taking heed to this ubiquitous need, Maharashtra DIT has found out a very novel solution – by suggesting creation of an IT cadre for assisting the state departments in their respective IT projects. This will provide support to all the departments with skilled manpower with experience in working on government projects based on their respective needs and requirements.
Another key initiative of the department is the creation of an empanelment of consultants and software engineers. This allows all the departments to use all the consultancy services and reasonable rates to help in hand-holding of departments to use their services for various projects. This ensures that they do not fall short of any professional expertise. Similarly, based on man-month basis any department can hire a software company that is empanelled with the state government and execute their software creation requirements without going through the lengthy tendering process. These initiatives are sure to allow the various departments, irrespective of their progress in IT readiness, to hire software skills and consultancy manpower at competitive prices and ensure that any point that have readily available professional expertise and technical help available to curb delays in project planning and execution.
The allocation of 0.5 percent of the state budget has been already committed to e-Governance projects for all the state departments, that amounts to nearly `200 crore. In addition, in the proposed e-governance policy, the state aims to hike the share to 3 percent. This is surely a reasonable amount for state departments to begin on the delivery models for G2C services. With the mandate of e-Governance now part of the deliverables for the entire state department through the mechanism of e-Vision as a commitment of all state departments. This vision statement will guide the IT roadmap for the department and have identi- fied 6-7 services that they would aim to deliver in next three to five years. The state has created an enabling environment for e-Governance with most of the required infrastructure in place. The next target to deliver 100 online services in a year’s time will bring the citizens much closer to the government.