Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar seems to be trying to a give a push to e-governance to improve delivery of government services to the people by freeing them from the clutches of lower bureaucracy.
While it would be a while before this long-overdue push starts delivering results, evidence has emerged that the state, which had responded enthusiastically to the e-governance project in 2006, has been a laggard in delivery of government services to common citizens for years, working in fits and starts only.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report on ‘Communications and IT’ (Report no. 20 of 2015), has shown that Haryana, which was the first state to set up State Wide Area Network (SWAN) under the centrally-sponsored National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), made little progress on e-delivery of services to its citizens through the Common Service Centres (CSCs). The report on the audit of ‘Implementation of National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) and delivery of services to common citizens through CSCs’ carried out in 10 states in 2013-14 was tabled in Parliament on Friday. The audit was conducted during the stint of the previous Congress regime in the state.
CSCs FOUND NON-OPERATIONAL
The state government was to set up 1,159 CSCs under the e-governance scheme, but not a single was connected, operational or transacting, according to the audit findings. “The CSC scheme was not operational in the state as agreement with all the service centre agencies terminated in December 2009 and August 2010. Despite setting up its SWAN in 2007 and State Data Centre (core infrastructure) in 2012, the state could not continue e-delivery of services to its citizens through the common service centres,” it reads.
Of the 10 states, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Chhattisgarh covered by the CAG in its audit, Haryana was the only state where no CSC was connected or delivering any services. In the remaining nine states, over 1 lakh CSCs were connected with 60,754 of them transacting.
In neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, 1,251 of the total 3,366 CSCs planned in the state, were transacting. The CSCs – one for every 6 villages – were to serve as the citizen-facing end of the National e-Governance Programme for delivery of services to the citizens. The centres, according to the report, were also envisaged to be a change instrument that would provide socially inclusive community participation for development.
‘NO MOUs FOR G2C SERVICES’
The state nodal agency (Hartron), according to the report, had not signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) till April 2013 with the identified user departments for providing government-to-citizens (G2C) services through CSCs, resulting in lack of involvement and accountability of user departments in delivery of government services in an integrated manner. “These user departments were not prepared to deliver G2C services due to lack of back-end computerisation, digitisation data and availability of relevant software applications in their departments,” it reads.
Also, the state-level apex committee, constituted in February 2010 to allocate resources and resolve inter-departmental issues, had not met even once in four years. Though the state implementing agency replied to the auditors, attributing the delay to user departments, the report says the reply is not acceptable because MoUs were to be signed beforehand with user departments to ensure timely delivery of G2C services. The Department of Electronic and Information Technology (DeitY), Government of India, also informed the audit team that the state had not submitted any formal plan for roll out of CSCs.
Earlier, Haryana was the first state to commission SWAN in August 2007 despite a delay of eight months from the scheduled timeline. The time overruns for other states were as long as 74 months (6 years and two months). The NeGP was launched by the UPA government in 2006 with the aim of making all government services accessible to the common man in his locality at an affordable cost through creation core and support infrastructure. The project cost was jointly shared by the centre and the states with the former providing 60% of the funding.
NEW GOVT, NEW IMPETUS
The new government, which took over six months ago, is trying to give a fresh push to e-delivery of services through common service centres. While the chief minister launched seven e-services such as Aadhar-linked registration of birth, and software applications on May 2, the government is targeting implementation of 150 e-services by March 2016.
An IT department official said that the network of CSCs would be expanded to deliver these services in all blocks of the state.
“While 631 CSCs have been made operational, our target is to take their number to 2,500 centres within the next one year. Then, we plan to have mobile apps to make these services accessible through smart phones in an assisted delivery mode,” he added.