Puducherry is in the process to evolve from E-Governance to Digital Governance and building digital capacities, achieve the digital dividend for each and every citizen through digital literacy accessibility for all, says Padma Jaiswal, Secretary, Directorate of Information Technology, Government of Puducherry, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).
What digital innovations have been introduced in Puducherry recently?
In line with the flagship Digital India programme of Government of India, the Government of Puducherry has introduced and implemented various digital schemes to provide better Government to Citizen (G2C) and Government to Business (G2B) services to the citizens. Digital India aims to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
This umbrella programme weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single comprehensive vision of making technology as a key enabler for transformative change in the delivery of public services and participative governance in the country. This itself shows how significant IT and IT-enabled services have become and are now entrenched in our daily lives. We have Networks, National Knowledge network, Bharat Broadband, State Data Centre, State Wide Area Network, in terms of UIDAI database, tremendous coverage of the bank accounts, number of e-Governance projects, Common Services Centres. The major digital innovations introduced in Puducherry are eHRMS related to personnel management, eOffice project, Soil Health Card Scheme, services related to land record, dematerialisation of land record and registration, property tax, college management, online admission, online old age, and disability pension, etc.
What does Digital translates to in the real world? What are the avenues that Digital innovations will open?
Digital means withdrawing human intervention and codifying the processes to make system more objective. It means moving away from individual applications to follow a systems application approach, application of emerging technologies such as Internet Of Things, Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing and mobiles. It also means using the multilevel platforms and network structure. The platform of UIDAI Aadhaar based data, GSTN, Government eMarket place, Mee Seva, e-NAM of Agirculture and Farmer welfare are the platforms where Central Government, State Government, Local Government and many other service providers join and innovate with the services. The avenues range from e-governance, IT/ ITeS enabled services, Cybersecurity, Hardware, manufacturing, mobile services, healthcare sector, online education and research-based activities and in providing a wide range of financial services, etc. These are the just tip of the iceberg thereby opening up the large arena of opportunity for youth such as entrepreneurship, opportunities in research and development, industry, academia, consultancy, etc. T
he digitisation of various departments is taken up under the e-District Project. Under the project, nearly 72 government services are available through online portal and through this initiative people are able to obtain certificates from their residence or Common Service Centres (CSC). The 72 citizen-centric services had been made electronically available through the State portal. The project covers 11 departments at present and other departments would be covered in due course of time. e-District is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the flagship Digital India programme.
Having been selected under the Smart Cities Mission, which Government departments are going under digitisation?
The Smart Cities Mission is being implemented by Puducherry Smart City Development Limited. IT plays an important role in the implementation of various projects under the Mission. Puducherry Smart City Development Limited (PSCDL) has signed a contractual agreement with Nippon Koei India Ltd last month for implementing the Smart City Project. PSCDL has selected the joint venture Nippon Koei-Prive Water House Coopers Pvt. Ltd as the Project Management Consultant for implementation of Smart City Project in Puducherry.
It would be responsible for preparation of detailed design, project estimate and implementation of projects over three years. The Puducherry Government has constituted the City level Advisory Committee Forum (CLAF) having MPs and MLAs as members of concerned segments falling within the Area Based Development, experts and representatives of nonGovernmental Organisations. The CLAF will advise the PSCDL and prioritise the projects for implementation of Smart City in Puducherry Municipality.
The Union Government has approved Puducherry Smart City proposal in June last year. The total cost of all project under Puducherry Smart City proposal is Rs 1,828 crores. The Smart City proposal includes area-based development projects at Rs 1,663.69 crores and pan-city projects at Rs 94.19 crores. The infrastructure projects include laying of the dedicated underground corridor for cables, augment sustainable water source, the introduction of smart metering for water and electricity, establishing a plant to generate energy from water, construct 1,750 housing units and redevelop swadeshi mill complex.
The project involves developing a city app for the municipality to extend various services and establishing an Integrated Command Control Centre. The Puducherry Government formed PSCDL in September last year under the Companies Act, 2013 to implement Smart City Project worth Rs.1526.28 crores in the Union Territory of Puducherry. What initiatives have been started by the administration to promote cashless transactions in Puducherry? We have the plan to transform all the Government Department agencies in Puducherry to provide online services with secure online payment system through debit, credit cards or Aaadhar-enabled payment system. Online payments are being taken for issuing licenses and certificates, electricity bills, water tax, property tax, online payment for transport department services through Vahan and Sarathi Portal, e-Stamp paper for registration and all transactions of CSCs through e-wallet.
How are you trying to boost tourism in Puducherry with the help of IT tools?
The Tourism Department is the nodal Department for boosting tourism in Puducherry. Few of the measures include the launch of tourist kiosk at promenade beach and launch of prepaid cashless Rupay card. The tourism promotion initiatives included in the Smart City project are the rejuvenation of Grand Canal, setting up of urban entertainment village at the old port, construction of art and culture complex at the old distillery, upgrading Gouber market and extension of beach promenade. The projects on providing urban mobility include establishing a dedicated corridor feeder system, smart integrated bus terminal, and multi level parking at old jail complex, electronic cycle track and cycle sharing system besides making J N Street pedestrian friendly.
What are your plans for the future?
We want to evolve from e-Governance to Digital Governance and building digital capacities, achieve the digital dividend for each and every citizen through digital literacy accessibility for all. Bridging the digital divide is an important issue, standardisation of the delivery across regions, constant upgradation of employee skill and process standardisation. The focus will be on-construction of the data protection framework to reconcile the concerns of privacy and yet make the data available for all kind of services to the Citizens.