Telecom minister Kapil Sibal’s grand plan to check corruption by providing public services online has hit the planning commission roadblock.
The Union Cabinet in last December approved the electronic delivery of services bill, 2011, which gave governments --- centre and the states --- five years to provide public services such as issuance of driving license or ration card online.
The centre and state governments will have to list the services which it can provide online once the bill – presently being examined by a Parliamentary Standing Committee --- is notified. Within five years, the listed services will have to be provided online and commissions --- at Centre and state levels --- will have to be constituted to address public grievances.
Before the bill become law, the governments were required to do lot of ground work to meet the prescribed deadline. It included of having existing database in a digital format, buying adequately powered servers to run the online system, setting up state data centers and over a million common service centers.
For this, the Department of Information Technology --- mandated to help governments in providing online services --- had launched national e-governance programme. The department had initiated 27 mission mode projects and aims to provide broadband connection to every panchayat in the next few years.
To make it feasible, the department has sought Rs 15,000 crore from the country’s fund allocating body --- the planning commission --- for the 12th five year plan (2012-17) to create Information Technology hardware and infrastructure. The ministry had also prescribed why the money was necessary.
But, the plan panel had ruled out the possibility of made Rs 15,000 crore available. Instead, it says, only Rs 7,900 crore will be available for the entire plan, while admitting that it could result in significant pushing of e-governance programme goalposts.
In an internal document circulated for allocating of resources to different ministries in the 12th plan, the panel had said the existing commitments of the UPA government for social sector has hampered allocation of additional resources to new programmes.
These include national e-governance programme, national skill development mission, revamp of public broadcaster Doordarshan and All India Radio and some clean environment programmes.
The department, however, says that ensuring public service through online mode will ensure efficient, transparent and reliable delivery of services and will also reduce corruption. Telecom minister Kapil Sibal had described the Electronic Delivery Service Bill as a “modern tool” to check corruption by reducing human interface.