Initiatives in e-governance

Print edition : March 28, 2003

GUJARAT is among the leading States in the country to have invested money and resources to implement citizen-centric e-governance projects. Gujarat was one of the first States to create a separate Information Technology (IT) division, under the erstwhile General Administration Department (GAD). Subsequently, the government set up a separate Department of Science & Technology (DS&T).

The Gujarat government had announced an IT policy for the five-year period of 1999-2004. While it is constantly amended and upgraded, the DS&T is now framing a new and comprehensive IT policy with focus on building an institutionalised approach to IT. An exercise to collect inputs from various stakeholders has already started.

In another first, way back in February 1999, Gujarat set up Gujarat Informatics Ltd (GIL) as a nodal agency in the public sector for the development of IT in the State, promote Gujarat as an ideal IT destination, and build a truly e-governed State. Incidentally, unlike in the case of other IT-savvy States, it was the government that took the initiative in Gujarat.

Unlike other States, development in the IT field is spread all over the State.

The Citizen Convenience Centre, also called `City Civic Centre', recently launched at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), is the latest e-governance product from the GIL basket. GIL played a key role by investing in the development of software and retains the Intellectual Property Rights, even as AMC and a local private company designed and implemented the project.

The `Mahiti Shakti Project' of Panchmahal district has been adjudged by the Computer Society of India as the 'Best e-Governance Project' for 2002 in the country. Earlier, the State was awarded the first prize for its pavilion at the IT.COM International held in Bangalore in October 2002. GIL won the award the second time.

The much-acclaimed Vadodara Model District Project, known as the country's first online Citizens' Charter, that links the District Collectorate with all the 13 block towns, was implemented in August 2000. It has been subsequently replicated in all the 25 districts. The Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN), which connects the State capital with all the 25 district and 225 block headquarters, is Asia's largest Internet Protocol-based network.

Another highly cost-effective project is the Secretariat Integrated Communication Network (SICN), which connects over 5,500 telephone lines in government offices. On an average 125,000 calls are made within the network every day, resulting in huge savings for the government on its internal calls. (About 65,000 calls are made outside the network and 40,000 calls are received from outside the network every day).

The e-governance projects implemented in the State have started paying back dividends faster than anticipated, saving huge amounts on interests with faster recovery of dues and arrears.

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