Highlighting the urgent need to bridge the digital divide by using IT services, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today called for broadening the scope of functions at existing Khidmat Centres so that they become rich databank of information and provide dependable community-based services to the people.
He also sanctioned Rs. 2 crore for improving internet connectivity in the Civil Secretariat as well as Khidmat Centres for firmly embedding an effective e-governance mechanism between the people and online service providers. “Use of technology in delivery of public services is the need of the hour,” he emphasized.
The Chief Minister gave these directions while chairing a high-level meeting of the Information Technology (IT) Department here today.
Minister for IT, Youth Services & Sports, Imran Raza Ansari, Chief Secretary, Iqbal Khandey, Principal Secretary, Planning, B. R. Sharma, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Principal Secretary, Forest, Ecology & Environment, Rakesh Kumar Gupta and the Administrative Secretaries of Finance, Power, Home, RDD, Revenue, Social Welfare, CA&PD and IT Departments attended the meeting.
Describing people as the principal beneficiaries of e-governance, the Chief Minister directed the IT department to provide them online services, particularly related to police recruitment, information on vacancies in J&K PSC and SSB, as well as obtaining copies of ration cards and power bills, et al, in a hassle-free manner. “Necessary budgetary support will be provided for upgrading the IT infrastructure in Khidmat Centres to make them effective bridges of Government-Citizen interface,” he assured.
The Chief Minister said he will take up the issue of improving bandwidth speed with the Union Telecom Minister, Ravi Shanker Prasad, for enabling the State to provide e-services to the people without any bottlenecks. “The State Government will be transformed into a Smart Government so that it becomes transparent and accountable, thus bringing efficiency in public delivery mechanism,” he said and added that IT-enabled services form an important component of the model of good governance conceived by the coalition Government.
Secretary IT, Hridesh Kumar, informed the Chief Minister that 52 online services have been identified in various departments for rolling out from Khidmat Centres, out of which 25 will be extended this year. Presently, the IT Department is only providing five online services for the benefit of the people which include old-age pension, age and physically-handicapped certificates and information on National Family Benefit Scheme.
Khidmat Centres are Service Delivery Points for all e-services in the State. Presently, 1109 such Centres, with J&K Bank as Service Centre Agency, are functional and 1500 more are planned to be opened during the current financial year.
While directing the IT Department to provide wide publicity to the services being offered through print and electronic media, Mufti Sayeed also asked the Chief Secretary to monitor the implementation of the decisions taken in the meeting to provide e-services to the people so that they don’t have to struggle and go from pillar-to-post in search of information and facilitation. “People need to be made aware as they are generally unaccustomed to use of IT and IT-enabled services as well as working of the Khidmat Centres,” he stressed.
The Chief Minister also issued instructions for completing required back-end preparations by holding discussions with the connected departments for improving the efficiency of Khidmat Centres as e-service providers in an effective and coordinated manner.
In an earlier meeting held in April this year, the Chief Minister had designated the IT Department as the Servicing Agency for rolling out online services in Housing, Power, Revenue, PHE and Transport Departments for the benefit of the people in a time-bound and hassle-free manner.
Placing high priority on use of IT services in improving administrative efficiency, the Chief Minister also issued directions for implementing Biometric Attendance in Government Departments all over the State. For this, the IT Department will prepare a comprehensive proposal for funding by the State Finance Department so that necessary equipment related to recording of biometric attendance is installed in the departments.
The Biometric Attendance will ensure presence of employees in Government departments, especially in remote and far-flung areas of the State, thus bringing succour to the people.