Despite starting the IT infrastructure late in Uttar Pradesh, we have been able to implement the digital transformation at a rapid pace, says Kumar Prashant, Secretary, IT & Electronics; Managing Director UPLC; Managing Director Uttar Pradesh Development Systems Corporation Ltd. and Project Director, eSuvidha in an exclusive interview with Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN).
The Government of Uttar Pradesh has recently launched the Chief Minister Helpline. How effective has it been so far in engaging with the citizens?
Earlier, the citizens had to visit Tehsil offices or District Headquarters if they had to redress their grievances or register complaints. This caused much inconvenience to the citizens belonging to rural areas, who had to travel almost 70 to 80 kilometres from the district or Tehsil Headquarters. The purpose of launching the Helpline was to ease the process for the citizens by enabling complaint registration through a phone call. A toll free number, 1076 was created. A centralised call centre was established in Gomti Nagar, Lucknow.
There is a capacity of receiving 80,000 calls and making 55,000 outbound calls in a day. The centre has been made functional and was inaugurated by the Chief Minister. Prior to that, it was running on beta version, in which we were receiving around 18,000- 20,000 calls each day, out of which 2,000-3,000 calls were grievance related. On the day of inauguration, we received more than one lakh calls.
At present, we are receiving around 60,000 calls, of which around 20,000 calls are grievance related. One important aspect of this Helpline is that, it does not redress calls related to ongoing court cases. We have also integrated the calls with 100 (Police), 102 (Ambulance) and 1090 (Women Helpline) numbers as well.
Which are the major areas in which maximum grievance calls are received?
So far we have received maximum grievance calls in the Food Department. The calls are generally related to the delivery of ration or improper issuance of ration cards etc. This is followed by Revenue and Taxation Department along with Land Acquisition related issues followed by Home Department such as FIR or investigations.
There are two major policies, UP IT & Startup policy and Electronics and Manufacturing policy. Please throw some light on these policies in terms of scope of investment in the state.
At present, the IT Department has launched four policies. The Startup policy has been separated from that of the IT policy owing to the massive transformation in the Startup ecosystem. We have also launched a Data Centre policy. The objective of these policies is to promote and attract investors as much as possible. We are generating an ecosystem of start-ups and incubators. We encourage the youth to set up their businesses or to present their ideas.
Under the Data Centre policy, we aim to secure the existing data by creating local cloud-based Data Centre. Generally the host Cloud-based Data Centres are companies like Amazon or Google. Owing to the third party hosting of Data, there is a threat looming over the data privacy.
As far as investments are concerned, we have signed MoUs on investment of Rs 55,000 crore in the recently held groundbreaking ceremony. On ground, we have already received investment of Rs 59,000 crore. In the upcoming groundbreaking ceremony, we are likely to receive investment worth Rs 15,000 crore. We have received investment offers of Rs 17,000 crore from companies which will participate in the groundbreaking ceremony and sign MoUs.
Earlier, our Electronic & Manufacturing policy was limited to Noida and Greater Noida only. We have put efforts to eradicate the regional imbalances and making the policy more lucrative for investors based in Poorvanchal or Bundelkhand or Central UP (Lucknow) areas. At present, western Uttar Pradesh areas such as Noida and Greater Noida have already saturated. Hence, we are making offers which are more lucrative.
We are offering incentives based on revenue as well as non-revenues. Within revenue, there are factors like capital subsidy, interest subsidy, subsidy in land duty and rebate in State GST. The non-revenue incentives include subsidy in filing for patents, reimbursement of fee for skill development training of stuffs to name a few.
Are you also looking at creating employment opportunities for the Uttar Pradesh citizens along with the incoming investment opportunities?
Yes, definitely. We have already created over two lakh job opportunities in the IT and Electronics department in either direct or indirect modes. Companies like TCS and HCL have invested in our state and have recruited the software professionals from Uttar Pradesh. Apart from that, these companies also work on creating software solutions, for which they take help of ancillary departments of the state. They also train and develop the skill sets of the people, which further creates indirect employment opportunities.
IT is a central and nodal zone which works in tandem with various departments. How has been your experience of working in this department? How would you rate the e-service penetration within the citizens?
Despite starting the IT infrastructure late in Uttar Pradesh, we have been able to implement the digital transformation at a rapid pace. As far as e-service penetration is concerned, we have installed common service centres in the rural areas. We provide over 250 online services across 34 departments. We have received positive response from the citizens. Some of the basic services include issuance of caste certificates, domicile certificate, birth and death certificate etc.
Other services include eSuvidha centres, which includes single window Utility Bill payment options. The service is being expanded to Eastern, Central and Southern Uttar Pradesh. At present, we are receiving payment of Utility Bills of approximately Rs 300 crore per month.
Within the scheme of PMGDIsha (Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan), we had a target of providing digital literacy to six crore citizens. Through this, we are not only offering the digital literacy, but also creating awareness about the egovernance policies and schemes of the state to the citizens through the online or eSuvidha centres.
How has been the overall implementation of the Uttar Pradesh IT department and what are your plans in pipeline to further enhance egovernance in the state?
We are in the process of creating an outline and vision for the state’s Digital progress. For that, we have hired a Consultancy, Price water house Coopers. Among the other initiatives, we have launched State Wide Area Network (SWAN-2) across the state. We have assigned the task to Airtel, which has 885 Points of (POPs) at our Block Headquarters, Tehsil Headquarters and District Headquarters. The endeavour is to connect the main offices of Uttar Pradesh through a broadband connection of 10 MBPS through fibre optic cables.
We are also in process of expanding our State Data Centres. We have got 40 acre land allocation from UPDPL to build a new State Data Centre.
“Despite starting the IT infrastructure late in Uttar Pradesh, we have been able to implement the digital transformation at a rapid pace. As far as e-service penetration is concerned, we have installed common service centres in the rural areas.”
Apart from this, we have also deployed biometric attendance system at all government offices and educational institutes. We expect to mitigate the challenge of low attendance among government employees.
Another initiative is Aadhaar linked services for our citizens. The percentage of Aadhaar enrolment has increased from 80 to 90 percent. Checking the authenticity of the Aadhaar cards is also on priority.
Foundations of Software Technology Parks have been laid in cities like Meerut, Agra and Gorakhpur and are in process at Varanasi. Software Parks house software firms, incubators for start-ups etc. With these schemes, we will be able to transform Uttar Pradesh into an IT and Electronics enabled state. We are in a transition phase at present, but with the State government’s effort, we would soon be able to realise the vision.