The State of Bihar, often contemptuously brushed aside as an underdeveloped state, is here to prove its critics wrong: it is making big strides in the realm of Information Technology and is well on its way to transformation through adoption of IT at all levels of governance. Nirmal Anshu Ranjan takes a look at the IT revolution happening in Bihar
Information Technology is the backbone of any modern and efficient management system, more so in the case of a government. With the growing demand to deliver information and services with efficiency and transparency, there is a growing demand to IT-enable the states. That being the reason, the importance of IT and its use — right from the decision-making stage until delivery of services — is also growing fast.
In keeping with the demand of the day, the Government of Bihar has placed IT on the top of its agenda, so as to offer the people of Bihar a government that is transparent in its processes and makes speedy delivery of citizen services.
The Department of Information Technology, set up on 1st April 2007, systematically effects the use of IT in various government departments. It has also been entrusted with the task of implementation of programmes under the NeGP (National e-Governance Plan), such as SWAN (State Wide Area Network), CSC (Common Service Centre) and SDC (State Data Centre).
The Department has created two verticals to carry out its mandate efficiently: Information Technology, which aims to create appropriate infrastructure, conducive for investment by IT companies in the designated areas, and e-Governance, which works towards enabling the government departments and organisations for electronic delivery of key services to citizens in an efficient, effective and hassle-free manner.
The Department of IT and the Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd (Beltron) — a Bihar Government undertaking — engaged in business related to electronics, computer goods and services, have together undertaken several initiatives. A number of projects have been undertaken and successfully delivered, making the services of government accessible to citizens, while several new projects are currently underway.
In Sync with NeGP
The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) has a vision to make all government services accessible to the common man in his locality through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs.
NeGP seeks to lay the foundation of and provide impetus for long-term growth of e-Governance in the country. Some of the landmark NeGP projects implemented or are in the pipeline in the State include:
BSWAN (Bihar State Wide Area Network)
The Government of Bihar established a massive wide area network, namely Bihar State Wide Area Network (BSWAN), providing network connectivity to all field government offices in the State Capital, Districts, Sub-Divisional and Block headquarters across the State for voice, data and video services. Adequate leased line and internet bandwidth has been provisioned to meet the increasing demand of voice, data and video transmission in the government offices. Bihar SWAN is one of the fastest implemented SWANs in the country, and is under active and continuous use since its beginning. It is fully implemented at the State headquarters at Patna, all district headquarters and 495 Block HQ, besides sub-divisional offices, for services such as Video Conferencing, iWDMS, VAT MIS, CTMIS as well as e-District application.
The Government of Bihar, in its endeavour to improve the quality of governance in the State, has involved entrepreneurs to participate in the CSC scheme as Service Centre Agencies (SCAs) for establishing and operating 8,463 CSCs in all Panchayats of Bihar in public-private partnership. The scheme has been named as Vasudha Kendras in Bihar. These Kendras offer multitude of services ranging from e-Governance, education, agriculture, commerce to communication and entertainment. The State Government has mandated that the delivery of government services has to take place through Vasudha Kendras.
In keeping with the demand of the day, the Government of Bihar has placed IT on the top of its agenda, so as to offer the people of Bihar a government that is transparent in its processes and makes speedy delivery of citizen services
State Data Centre (SDC)
State Data Centre (SDC) is identified as one of the important elements of the core infrastructure for supporting e-Governance initiatives of NeGP. It is proposed to create SDC for the State to consolidate services, applications and infrastructure to provide efficient electronic delivery of G2G, G2C and G2B services through common delivery platform, supported by the core connectivity infrastructure, such as BSWAN and Vasudha Kendras, up to the village level. State Data Centre would provide the key functionalities of the central repository of the State, secure data storage, online delivery of services, supporting citizen information / Services Portal, State Intranet Portal, Disaster Recovery, remote management of infrastructure and service integration, etc. This core infrastructure would provide better operation and management control, and minimise overall cost of data management, IT resource management, deployment and other costs.
e-District as a concept proposes integrated and seamless delivery of citizen services by district administration through automation of workflow, backend digitisation, integration and process re-design across participating departments, such as Revenue, Civil Supply, Social Welfare, Land Records and Registration, etc., for providing services to the citizens.
e-District is a state Mission Mode Project (MMP) being co-funded by the Government of India. Currently, the project is going into the pilot phase in four districts of the State – Nalanda, Aurangabad, Madhubani and Gaya.
This project is being implemented on the build, own, operate, transfer (BOOT) model. e-District project uses CSC and CFC (Citizen Facilitation Counters) for the delivery of services.
State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG)
SSDG is one of the important MMP projects to provide a single source for all information for the State of Bihar. The project is envisaged to provide a single-window interface for all government transactional services for citizens (G2C), business and overseas people. The components of the project are:
- State Portal as a platform of service application and delivery;
- eForms: 56 forms of 13 departments, both in English & Hindi;
- Backend centralised application: Generic 3 Tier Rolebased application for processing of applications for departmental users; and
- Content Service Provider (CSP).
City Surveillance & Dial 100 Project
The Project is first of its kind in India, as multiple solutions of City Surveillance, Vehicle Tracking and centralised Dial 100 control centre are integrated within one project. Broad objectives of this project are:
- It will provide centralised contact centre for common access Dial 100 system.
- GIS/ GPS-based Automatic Vehicle tracking system to locate and dispatch patrol vehicles based on emergency needs.
- IP-based surveillance system with video analytics for street level security to handle threats and vulnerabilities better (79 cameras at 62 locations across Patna City).
- Complete end-to-end application workflow to handle call registration, vehicle locator and dispatch service.
- Automatic number plate recognition system at 11 roads covering 32 lanes.
- Provides Enterprise Management System with a capability to centrally monitor IT infrastructure and its components.
- Extensive reporting solutions to enable police analyse and manage the incident better and proactively help improve public safety and security.
- Structured service and support model; enforced by service level agreements.
Under this project, government offices in and around the State Secretariat located in 14 different buildings have been connected through optical fibre and WIMAX, along with 5,000 LAN points. It is connecting the SDC at Technology Bhawan, Bailey Road, Patna. This project is aimed to help in easy communication within the Secretariat offices by facilitating information sharing and file movement, thereby resulting in better efficiency and effective co-ordination. This entire system is linked to BSWAN and provides effective VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls and video-conferencing facility. SecLAN is creating a single, converged network that provides voice, data and video communications to the employees, spread all over the State of Bihar through BSWAN and BRAIN DC Project.
iWDMS has ensured effective, efficient and transparent administration and has created an automated office management system. It has been already implemented in 16 departments and further more implementation in 14 other departments is in process. The Management Information System (MIS) for Secretaries of all the departments and e-file system court case module has helped the State implement the “State Litigation Policy” in an effective manner. The scanned copy of Writ petition is now made available online to all District Magistrates and Departmental Secretaries within hours of filing. The facility is provided for real time filing of statements of facts and counter affidavits. Following its implementation, no case today goes unrepresented in the court for the State Government because of non-availability of timely information. Additionally, SMS alerts to District Magistrates and Departmental Secretaries is also provided on arrival of any writs.
The Bihar State Food and Civil Supplies Corporation (BSFC), nodal agency for distribution of PDS commodities, is implementing the state-of-the-art e-PDS system to introduce transparency and accountability in the entire system and arrest leakages and diversions in the supply chain. The project covers activities at all the District Managers’ offices, 57 FCI depots and 534 PDS godowns in the State.
A web portal of Bihar State Food Corporation, i.e. www. sfc.bihar.gov.in, has also been launch to ensure transparency through GPS tracking and monitoring of vehicles carrying food grains from godowns to PDS dealers.
The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) project is implemented in Bihar at the cost of approximately INR 75 crore to modernise the police force by enhancing outcomes in the areas of crime investigation, criminals detection, information gathering and enhancing citizen services. The efficient and effective policing at police station level, networked infrastructure and ITenabled tracking system have been achieved through first phase of the implantation.
Jankari Call Centre
Jankari call centre is the innovative ICT facility which helps people seek information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Jankari is the first effort of its kind in the country awarded for unique citizen-centric service delivery, in which technology has been used to bring RTI to the masses. Under this scheme, a dedicated call centre has been established wherein a citizen can seek information on phone. It works on the premium rate services of the BSNL – premium rate call number 155311 for RTI applications and 155310 as helpline number. Jankari is an additional mode for seeking information under RTI apart from the conventional way of giving applications in the offices concerned.
The CCTNS project has been implemented at the cost of abour `75 crore to modernise the police force by enhancing outcomes in the areas of crime investigation, criminals detection, information gathering and enhancing citizen services
e-Procurement is the process wherein the physical tendering activity is carried out online using the Internet and associated technologies. e-Procurement enables the user to introduce ease and efficiency without comprising on the required procurement policies and procedures of the organisation. Through e-Procurement, the government expects efficiency in the public procurement and moreover, it is estimated that e-Procurement will bring about savings worth approximately 15-20% annually. January 2015, a total of around 20,000 and more tenders with an estimated amount of more than `80,000 crores has been successfully processed.
Prison Security Modernisation
With an objective to realise surveillance and security in prisons and courts of the State, the Home Department of Bihar has taken an initiative to modernise the prison security. IP-based cameras have been installed in the prisons, so as to monitor the status of prisons remotely. These cameras can help the senior officers at the State level to monitor the security status in the prisons. Leased line-based video conferencing facility has been provided for direct interaction between the prisons and the courts. Already 53 jails and 43 courts are connected through this project.
Bihar Knowledge Society
Bihar Knowledge Society (BKS) has been promoted by the IT Department of the State to work out and deliver IT training and manpower development activities across Bihar. Under the aegis of BKS, Bihar Knowledge Centre (BKC) is being set up as a finishing school with high class infrastructure and state-of- the-art training facility aimed at equipping students with employable skills for today’s job market. One of the BKC is currently operational in Patna. It grooms the students with appropriate soft and IT skills, and works as a link between industry and the students, benefiting both.
BRAIN DC Bihar
Revenue Administration Intra Net (BRAIN) is a fully functional state-of-the-art data centre pioneered and established by the State Government at Technology Bhawan in Patna. As the need for a functioning Data Centre was felt to initially support the large-size applications for the Finance Department and other e-Gov requirements, including SeGP Projects, this project was taken up. The aim of the project to provide a centralised secured data warehouse enabling the Government of Bihar to store, share and retrieve information pertaining to the Finance and Revenue Department on a real-time basis has been fully achieved. The project aims to create a World Class Tier II secured Data Centre. At present, storage capacity of this data centre is 50 TB.
The Comprehensive Treasury Management Information System is a project dedicated to take care of complete treasure operations in centralised architecture. Under the project, it was decided to connect all the treasuries in the State through SWAN and create a comprehensive system for an efficient and effective MIS for all the treasuries. It is an integrated approach for management of government income and expenses. It encompasses budgeting, allotment of budget to the administrative departments and its District Development Officers (DDOs), treasury transactions and budget compliance / Income / Expense analysis. It has also promoted financial discipline by linking all treasuries to the Accountant General’s office and the Finance Department.
Value Added Tax Management Information System has been designed and developed to provide a centralised architecture-based application for the Commercial Taxes Department of the Government of Bihar and integrated monitoring. The servers have been placed in the BRAIN Data Centre at Technology Bhawan, Patna, and various locations of the department are connected using BSWAN and SecLAN. Apart from the Department’s use, VATMIS has also enabled e-payment of taxes by citizens resulting in comfort of tax payers and better tax compliances leading to enhanced revenues.
With the use of Suvidha both registered and unregistered dealers can now apply for the online road permit i.e. DIX & DVII. Suvidha Online is a cloud-based accounting and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) package, which has an interface with the Sales Tax Department servers of the State, thereby facilitating easier billing and returns filings, and ensures a huge step-up in business control for the owners of business. The customers can directly generate D-VIII, D-IX (road permit) and other statutory forms using the software whereby such form generation will be directly integrated with the billing process of the customer and cumbersome double-entry process will be eliminated. Furthermore, it is a full-fledged accounting software which offers unprecedented qualities of analytical tools like Sales Order Planning, Production Planning, Stock Order Quantities, System Alerts, News Alerts from the Commercial Taxes Department, etc. This is first of its kind initiative in the country, which maximizes business transparency, along with increased convenience, for business owners.
Suvidha Online is a cloud-based accounting and ERP package with an interface with the Sales Tax Department servers of the State, facilitating easier billing and returns filings, and a huge stepup in business control for the owners
Mobile Services Delivery Gateway
MSDG is part of the State Government’s initiative to provide government information and public services to the residents of Bihar, especially in the rural areas, by utilising the reach of mobile phones and the innovative potential of m-Services.
In compliance of m-Governance, Department of Information Technology, for m-Service delivery in Bihar, has signed an agreement with C-DAC, Government of India. It supports both push- and pull-based services. Using push services, common informational services can be pushed to citizens as a group. Departments can use the SMS portal or a programmatic interface to push SMSs to citizens. Citizens can also request for specific information through pull based SMS services. Short codes 51969 and 166 have been allotted by the Government of India for mobile governance services in the country. These short codes have already been made operational for pull services. In addition, a long code, 9223166166, has also been made operational for pull services. About three crore SMSs have already been pushed by integrated application to citizens / government officials.