Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bangalore One - IT heralding new e-Governance age

Last April 2nd, 2005 marked a unique red-letter day in the information technology era in India. It was the day that Karnataka announced the first e-governance project. The project nick named 'Bangalore One' (B1) was launched at a quiet ceremony and has maintained a low profile in the public view.

The project has on its agenda projects that provide all Karnataka citizens G2B ( Government to Business ) and G2C ( Government to Customers ) services like
  • payment of bills
  • registration of birth and death
  • receipt of applications for new telephone connections
  • collection of income tax and filing of returns
  • sale of stamp papers
  • providing of exam results
  • access to political leaders, websites, etc
It also had plans to make use of a host of channels to bring these services to the common man. Use of mobiles by tying up with cellular providers, internet cafes by roping in the Internet cafe owners and opening government owned and operated kiosks at key points across the state were all part of the grandiose plans.

10 months since its launch, the e-governance project has realised a lot of its ambitious plans though its foot print is still limited to Bangalore, the capital of the state. Presently B1 has 14 centers across Bangalore city with locations at Jayanagar, Yeshwantpur, R T Nagar, Rajajinagar, Vijayanagar, HBR Layout, Air Port Road, etc. All 14 centers provide services from 8am to 8pm on all working days, and from 9am to 3pm on Sundays and holidays. Portal services are offered round-the-clock throughout the year. Important arms of the government in Bangalore like the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM), Bangalore Mahanagar Palike (BMP), Bangalore Police Service (BPS), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), Regional Transport Office (RTO), Regional Passport Office (RPO), CellOne and the Department of Labour have all been instrumental in breathing life to the project.

Techtree carried a news excerpt that had their news agents catching up with the director of this key program, Vipin Singh. When questioned on why the project has distanced itself from the media and public glare, he had this to say, "Well, this requires process engineering. We have been very busy getting the implementation effective in every way possible, to make the functioning of all the services flawless. The intention was to get as many services up and running before we talk about it to the public. We are proud of our achievements so far, and we are sure to be able to answer the questions raised by citizens about the activities and services offered by B1."

Now with the annual budget 2006-07 out and the union finance minister, P Chidambaram announcing 25 new e-governance projects across the country, Karnataka's B1 might get fillip and will surely have a head start over other states. Karnataka might soon roll out similar initiatives that will aim at reaching out everyone in the heartland of Karnataka. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best.

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