Odisha withdraws order that made Aadhaar mandatory for pensions
The Odisha government had earlier decided to make Aadhaar verification mandatory for all people who were availing monthly social security pension from August.Updated: Aug 28, 2020, 20:14 IST
Facing protests from activists, Odisha government on Friday backed down from its earlier decision of making Aadhaar verification mandatory for all people who were availing monthly social security pension from August. This comes even though the state has been quite aggressive over providing a large number of services to people through Aadhaar-linked online platforms.
The Aadhaar verification or Aadhaar seeding of the database of beneficiaries of social security schemes, such as National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) and state’s Madhu Babu Pension Yojana (MBPY) done through online mode, had managed to seed around 82 percent NSAP and 75 percent MBPY beneficiaries.
The process left around 1.1 million beneficiaries in the lurch, drawing protests from food rights activists after which the state government withdrew its order making Aadhaar mandatory for withdrawal of pensions. However, Odisha has seen success when it comes to providing services through online mode.
State government officials said that by mid-September, Odisha would throw open a web portal that would help citizens access different government services starting from land mutation, payment of electricity dues, admission in colleges or payment of holding tax as well as availing pension. ‘OdishaOne’ would be an integrated portal where citizens can access various online services instead of visiting different departments.
“Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had made it clear to all officials that no one will need to go to a government office unless mandated by law. As part of the chief minister’s 5T initiative, the OdishaOne portal would be a one-stop platform for citizens to access all government services. All e-governance applications of various departments are being linked to the OdishaOne portal and once it is rolled out in the next three weeks, people can access it. It would be single unified resource portal for citizens,” said state information technology secretary Manoj Mishra. The portal would be integrated with various secure payment gateways of banks as well as Paytm.
So far government to citizen services (G2C) - like issuance of birth certificate, death certificate, payment of holding tax, payment of trade license fees, payment of water bill, payment of electricity bills, booking of the tickets of OSRTC buses, among others - have been integrated with the portal. Of the 324 services notified under Odisha Right to Public Services Delivery Act, more than 220 services have been made online till date and others are being rolled out.
Officials said even before OdishaOne portal starts working, the state has been a front runner in several e-governance initiatives such as Go Swift, a one-stop investor facilitation portal for ease of doing business in Odisha that automates major clearances, permits and approvals required for establishment and expansion of industries in Odisha.
Officials in food, civil supplies and consumer welfare department said the P-PAS (Paddy Procurement Automation System) process started 5 years ago and has managed to digitise all paddy procurement and payment transactions bringing much-needed accountability and transparency. To secure such data of farmers from tampering, Odisha implemented blockchain technology in P-PAS, thereby making the procurement transaction records tamper-proof and assuring the farmer and millers of the correct price for their output.
State school and mass education minister Sameer Dash said in the education sector, Odisha started ‘Student Academic Management System (SAMS)’ for e-admission and post-admission academic administration at higher secondary and under-graduate degree levels across all the colleges in the state. Dash said SAMS has managed to provide citizen-centric, transparent, time-saving platform of admission and academic administration. The state has also developed an application called ‘E-blood Bank’ through which citizens can get the complete district-wise blood stocks on each blood group available with blood banks.
To increase the efficiency in revenue administration, the state has started e-registration and computerisation of all 316 sub-registrar offices across the state. The Integrated Finance Management System has helped in processing pension papers of government employees.
However, activists said going aggressive on e-governance was not a substitute for better governance. “In a state where teledensity is poor, having a unified portal to provide online services may not be the answer. Nearly 10,000 villages don’t have mobile connectivity and banking businesses are also not penetrating most of the rural areas due to poor connectivity. Our teledensity of 81 is far less than the national average. The rural teledensity is also very poor. How can people access e-governance applications in such a scenario?” asked activist Sameet Panda.