Bihar to make the e-leap into IT age

Monday, 30 October 2006, 08:00 Hrs
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Patna: Bihar, where once former chief minister Lalu Prasad saw IT as an elitist preoccupation, has approved a proposal to introduce e-governance in all its 8,479 panchayats at a huge cost of 252 million (Rs25.2 crores).

But his successor government of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar approved a sweeping proposal late Thursday that will enable villagers to connect with the outside world and get easy information access, state Cabinet Secretary A.K. Chauhan said Friday.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and the Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation, a state-owned IT body, are to design the software for the e-governance project. The Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (ILFS) will monitor its implementation.

Under the project, panchayat information centres, or panchayat portals called Vasudha Kendras, will be set up. This will enable villagers to connect with the outside world and provide affordable and easy access to information about the government and its policies, said Chauhan.

He said the Vasudha Kendras would be connected to all state departments through the Internet and the government will provide computers and Internet connections at the panchayat level centre.

According to the plan, eight government departments, including the chief minister secretariat, will be linked to the State-wide Area Network (SWAN).

The project aims at establishing direct contact with villagers and making the functioning of the government more transparent.

"People will come to know the progress of developmental projects, their implementation, costs incurred and can seek redressal of their problems with the click of a mouse," Chauhan said.

It was on the advice of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, during his visit to the state earlier this year, that the state took the e-governance project seriously.

Kalam had suggested that Bihar use e-governance as a tool for development and to ensure a corruption free administration.

The chief minister's official residence is to be the main operational hub for e-governance.

A few months ago, top administrative officials and ministers were provided with laptops as part of the e-governance drive. Video-conferencing facility has also been set up in the state's 38 district headquarters.

This was the same state where Lalu Prasad said famously not too many years ago that IT was a new-fangled concept and of no use to an agrarian state like Bihar.

Source: IANS
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