The ambitious project of the deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, to start e-panchayat system to maintain transparency in panchayat's records, has gone into deep freeze after the panchayat department cancelled its contract with the service provider company, Noida-based Tulip Telecom.
The department claimed the company had failed to fulfill many conditions of the contract like failing to arrange proper manpower and setting up hardware system at several locations.
Seeking anonymity, a district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) said the project was aimed to computerise the panchayat system in the state to end corruption. He said that to maintain transparency at the grassroots level, it was important to take the panchayat system online so that it could show the money spent on development work in villages.
The DDPO further added that with the online system, residents could have easily monitored where the funds were being utilised.
He also revealed that crores of rupees were spent on the development of villages every year but there were no records of the expenditure due to the manual system of record keeping.
He said that in the manual system, the black sheep of the department tried to cheat it by making forged entries in the records due to which department suffered huge financial loss.
He said that had the online system been started, it would have kept a close eye on the working of employees and if anyone tried to make a forged entry in the online system, he or she would be caught easily.
Under the system, the panchayats had to regularly update the information on expenses made on the development of villages through the model accounting system which would have lessened the chances of corruption at the grassroots level, the DDPO added.
He said the company had held several training sessions and workshops in the entire state including at the district and block levels on Panchayati Raj Institution Accounting Software (PRIASoft) in association with employees of the National Informatics Centre and rural development and panchayats.
Further, the objective of the new system was to spread awareness among the participants about PRIASoft, he said.
C Siban, director cum special secretary rural development and panchayats, Punjab, confirmed the department had cancelled the contract with the service provider of PRIASoft as it had failed to fulfill the conditions of the human resource and hardware system for the online system.
He further said the department would soon launch common service centres in the state to start the e-governance system for panchayats.