Port Blair, Nov. 2: A day long consultative workshop on citizen centric e governance was held at Port Blair. The islands Chief Secretary, Anand Prakash inaugurated the workshop at Megapode resort on Friday morning.  Addressing the meet, he said “It is very important that we are having this workshop at a timely juncture. E-Governance has caught on in India in a big way and as a part of India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands should also get its due,” he added.

Mr Prakash said that when he was young a lot of time was wasted in standing in queues for various government services; now many things can be taken care of online and time can be spent in a fruitful way which is a huge advantage for the people.

 “There was a time when if you wanted to buy a Fiat car you had to wait for seven years and even longer for cement and steel if you had to build a house; today these can be eliminated by opening up of technology,” he said.  Technology is a great help if used properly, he added.  He also called upon every one  to take the benefit and the fruits of the growth of technology and make sure that these benefits should  reach the common people. 

Mr Utpal Sharma,   Islands Special Secretary, department of information technology elaborated on the e-governance programme and initiatives in the union territory. He said, “IT policy in Andaman and Nicobar Islands was designed and implemented in 2001 to overcome the constraints due to geographical isolation and make people’s lives better in the islands.” He said e-government approach was adopted in 2008 and  a multipurpose VSAT has been installed to make connectivity in the islands better. 

As for the National e-Governance Programme (NeGP), the Data Centre in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is ready to be launched and the State Wide Area Network (SWAN) is slated to be completed by November 2012, he informed.  He revealed that 10  common service centres(CSCs) called as edweep kendras  are operational and 12 more will be operational in a week or 10 days.

Mr Sharma said that he had only recently floated the tender for ‘e-Prashasan’. “A pilot for e-Prashasan will be ready by July 2013and  the work will be allotted in three to four weeks,” he said.  He said that 20 to 40 percent offices have been connected with a biometric attendance system.  The other e-government initiatives are telemedicine, interactive education and distribution of tablet PCs and laptops to school children, he said. “We need to move to Data Centre virtualization and Cloud computing because of space constraints in the islands,” he added.

As for the disaster management, he said that a centre for disaster recovery of data will be built for better disaster management. A go-ahead for the same had been given by the Department of Information Technology.

 “If all goes well, Andaman and Nicobar Islands will be truly wired by 2015,” He said.

Dr Rajendra Kumar, Joint Secretary, DeitY, elaborated on a Macro level where the department stands today and what new elements we have added to achieve the original vision of the NeGP.

He said that the indicators to measure the impact of the programme, they looked at the number of transactions that took place through various applications.  “We found out that the number of transactions were 8.25 crore in 30 states which meant 8 crore transactions per month in the country,” he said. “We plan to make them more than 15 crore by end of March 2013,” he added.  He hoped that the e-governance initiatives  will have a huge impact of in improving citizen’s lives.

He said that a new method of service delivery through certificate repository has been adopted by many states where citizen request is stored in repository and he or she can avail it without visiting the CSC the next time he wants it.

He further informed  that the new elements added in the NeGP is Cloud Computing; Mobile Service Delivery Gateway where 10 lakh transactions take place every month ; E Praman which will be the priority for Andamans and it will be a pilot for other states; Electronic Service Delivery Bill which is under the consideration of the Parliament which ensures delivery of services electronically and lastly the social media engagement with citizen to implement the services in better manner and also involve citizens to improve the service.  Highlighting the importance of application of local languages in the electronic delivery system, he said the use of local languages for developing applications has been made mandatory especially in the applications such as e-district.

 “166 will be a single number for services for all the citizens in the island,” He said.

During the daylong workshop, the Andaman and Nicobar administration showcased e-government solutions implemented under the NeGP.

National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), a key component of the government's "inclusive growth" strategy, was approved by the Cabinet in May 2006. It aims to delivery public services to the common man in his locality to make them both accessible and affordable.

With many states in various stages of rolling out public services on the e-Government platform, the NeGP Apex Committee decided to create awareness about NeGP initiatives among stakeholders, discuss challenges in delivery of e-Services, identify state-specific issues and understand emerging technologies from industry.   To amplify the mission and message of the NeGP – "Public Services Closer Home", 50 workshops are being organised by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) of the Government of India in partnership with NASSCOM in all states and union territories (UTs).  The first workshop was hosted in the National Capital Territory of Delhi in July 2011 and the workshop in Port Blair was 21st in the series.