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Push for e-governance in India

Last year the Prime Minister of India had announced e-governance programme, one of the most ambitious networking project for the country. The impact of the project when fully implemented in four years could a revolutionary impact on the economy more potent than that of any other project. The e-governance programme announced by the PM during his Independence Day speech in 2002 is finally taking shape. At current estimates, the project could cost about Rs 12,500 crore to implement and the Centre’s share would be about Rs 5,300 crore. The states’ share would be about Rs 3,100 crore and the balance is to come from financial institutions and the private sector.

The proposal involves massive computerisation and networking to make available just about all the services on the net – ranging from land records, registration of vehicles, municipalities and civil supplies distribution to income tax, customs, passport, provident fund and insurance. Also proposed is a PoliceNet, EduNet, E-employment, Health-Net and human resources management systems. India portal, state portals, country gateway, electronic document interchange, e-procurement and e-Biz would be other components of the project.

A payment gateway is also planned to be set up in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, Bankers Association of India and the lead nationalised banks to facilitate e-commerce transactions and payments over the internet. E-governance is one of the priority agenda item of the Centre that is being monitored on a monthly basis for progress by the PMO and the Planning Commission. An apex mechanism under the chairmanship of Planning Commission deputy chairman KC Pant has also been proposed to provide leadership and steer the implementation of the programme.

The core infrastructure would include the existing government intranet such as Nicnet and Ernet, state wide internets, national e-government data centre, state data centre, security infrastructure and resources centre for e-governance and GIS national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI). Also the proposed project would be integrated with the ongoing projects and initiatives in the states to avoid duplication. Initiatives such as facilitating executive instructions for earmarking at least 3% of the budgetary non-plan and plan resources for investment for augmenting IT infrastructure and its use may be ensured and reinforced through legislative actions.

To encourage all states to implement the e-governance project and achieve well defined outcome, financial assistance is to be provided on the pattern of development and reform facility (DRF). This would require the states to prepare the project and enter into a memorandum of understanding or an agreement with the Centre to undertake a set of well-defined activities. Disbursal of funds would be linked to the commitments made by the state government.

The backward states are to be told to take up vigorous computerisation in relevant areas such as manpower information, registration, land records, taxation, budgeting, commerce and agriculture among others and to create database of various government activities. Initiatives that cover the central ministries and that are identified as national priorities may be taken up outside the scheme. The onus of implementation of a significant portion of the e-governance project would be with the states. The department of administrative reforms would constitute a steering committee of the central ministries and department to provide guidelines for use of assistance under this scheme and to facilitate interface with some of the ongoing programmes being implemented in the states with funding from central ministries.