As technology driven governance makes greater inroads in Jharkhand, the life of people is becoming easier, the delivery of government services is becoming efficient, higher revenue is being generated and corruption is being checked. E-payment gateway has cut down the need for challans to avail government services.
The SMS gateway has done away with the need for repeated visits to post offices and banks to withdraw pension, wages or scholarships. Chief secretary RS Sharma who is spearheading this infusion of information and communications technology (ICT) in governing Jharkhand, spoke to Hindustan Times.
What has ICT done to improve the corrupt public distribution system?
We have started an application on public distribution system for Ormanjhi block in Ranchi where all dealers in the block and the number of transactions would be shown with details of the quantity of items like rice, kerosene and salt that he distributed. For example, Saheena Parween, lifted ration at 1:48 pm on February 22. Anybody can see the details at an individual level. You cannot go beyond individual person and items. Earlier there was no way to determine whether the PDS shopkeeper had distributed the grains to the right beneficiaries. Now the shopkeeper cannot say that he gave the ration without taking the beneficiary’s biometric details.
To what extent has direct benefit transfer (DBT) been implemented?
We are transferring all the pensions through the DBT. We are present in all districts. Though all 9.36 lakh pensioners have savings accounts either with the post office or a bank, 3.59 lakh have their accounts linked to their Aadhaar numbers. This is a onetime exercise. Once the platform is ready all departments can use it to transfer the money to the genuine beneficiaries. We will be able to cover more than 90% of the beneficiaries in another six months. The banks are slow in linking the accounts with Aadhaar number. Besides, the banks’ business correspondents (BCs), who help in banking in remote areas, are not functioning well. We plan to scale up the Pragyan Kendras. I have received a letter from the Union government saying that cooperative banks and post offices would start receiving a commission of 2% for the work done. We will make all the Pragyan Kendra fellows as the BCs of the cooperative banks, which we will revive.
How is e-governance enhancing revenue generation in the state?
One example is automated check posts. Chirkunda (Dhanbad) check post, inaugurated this year, is fully automated. It tells the number of incoming, outgoing and transit commercial vehicles. We can see vehicle-wise details, what time it checked in, what item it is ferrying, what quantity and who is the consignee. Payment is through the payment gateway. There is no human intervention. This information is collated with mines, excise, transport and commercial tax. If a certain amount of vegetable oil has entered the state, matching amount of tax must get collected. There is no escape. You can just do data analytics. We will have eight more such check posts.
Transfer posting is a big business involving corruption here. Is there no IT mantra to check it?
Yes, true (it is a big business). The human resource management system will work here. I will have all the data to put up before the government saying that this man has had so many postings. Full details would be there. You can just analyse them. His janamkundali (a record of postings and other details) would be there. Currently, we do not have his janamkundali. We will first build his janamkundali and then it will be difficult for anybody to (indulge in corrupt practices).