Kerala, the Gods Own Country is a relatively smaller state situated in the southern part of India. It has an area of 38,863 sq. km. and a population of 3.33 crore. It is divided into 14 districts and 60 municipalities. Kerala has the second highest tele-density in India, the highest literacy rate, the highest banks density per population and is one of the few States in India with negligible power cuts. The state has recorded a growth rate in the last fiscal, which is above the national average; the second highest among South Indian States. A quick estimate of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) at factor cost at constant (2004-05) prices is Rs 2,26,20,850 lakh during 2013-14 as against the provisional estimate of Rs 2,12,85,953 lakh during 2012-13, registering a growth rate of 6.27 per cent in 2013-14 compared to nearly 6 per cent in 2012-13. (GDP growth in 2014-15 was 6.9 per cent as per revised base year 2011-12. In the old series that had 2004-05 base year, the growth was 4.7 per cent.) The state is a model of relevant governance and for this matter it has bagged 14 Skoch Order-of-Merit and three Awards this year.
The predominantly literate state Kerala has fared very well in the e-Governance category by winning 14 Order-of-Merit and three Awards. In the Finance category, the state has bagged an Award for the single win that it registered in this section. In fact, Kerala is also our overall winner amongst all states when it comes to the e-Governance standings.
To delve a bit deeper into what the various projects were, which helped Kerala blaze this year’s awards, let us take the category of e-Governance. The Kerala State IT Mission, Department of Information Technology, Government of Kerala has bagged eight Awards in this category. These are: e-District Services, Kerala Spatial Data Infrastructure (KSDI), e-Office, CERT-K, Establishment of Virtual IT Cadre in the state of Kerala, Aadhaar Enablement of Citizen Services (AECS), ACTION, SPARK and Online Ticket Booking for Agastyarkoodam Tracking. The District Administration, Thrissur won an Award for its project – SAND-System for Attumanal Neutral Distribution. The Kerala Water Authority’s project E-Abacus also won an Order-of-Merit this year.
Examining a few projects in detail, the e-Government Procurement initiative Launched on 7th December 2011, a web-based solution for Government procurement using ICT tools with the objective of increased visibility and transparency in public procurement and uniform, common & comprehensive procurement. As a result, for FY 2014-15,18,929 tenders with a value of Rs 14,419 crore have been processed under this model. The ACTION project (Accelerating Change and Transformation In Organisation & Networking), is an online web based task management system for high priority projects connecting Chief Minister, Ministers, Chief Secretary, Secretaries, District Collectors and heads of various public sector organisations in Kerala. This initiative is aimed at tracking the status, identifying the issues and removal of bottlenecks in the implementation of prestigious and critical projects. The impact of all this is that 118 Projects has been assigned up till 17th August 2015 and critical issues of 10 Projects have been resolved with an average resolution time of just 70 days.
Another good project is the CERT-K (Computer Emergency Response Team-Kerala) that leads efforts to improve the state’s cyber security posture, coordinate cyber information sharing and proactively manage cyber risks to the state government’s applications and websites and works in concert with CERT-In. The e-Office project is a file automation system, developed by NIC, which aims at modernising government offices by transforming them to ‘Paperless’ offices. e-Office has been fully implemented at 14 departments and partially in seven departments. The net impact is that pendency of files has decreased drastically and there is a 25 per cent increase in file processing per day. In addition, file turnover time has reduced from two weeks to an average of five days.
The award winning Kerala Spatial Data Infrastructure (KSDI) project, is intended to create a centralised infrastructure and repository for geospatial data. Various departments have created their own geospatial data and this project aims to make such data available to other departments for their reference as and when needed. The project now covers the entire population of the Kerala State at the District, Block and Gram Panchayats, Talukas and Villages levels.
e-District MMP in Kerala aims at electronic delivery of identified high volume citizen centric services at District, Taluka and Village levels, which are not part of any other MMP and thereby reducing administrative burden and costs. The project has been successful and more than 1.5 crore certificates have already been processed through e-District across 14 districts in Kerala as of August 2015 with 25,000 transactions per day and over 4 lakh transactions per month. The project on the establishment of Virtual IT Cadre in Kerala with the objective to create a team of e-Governance champions within each department/ DHQ, the project now has 33 members from different departments in Secretariat and 28 members from District Collectorates constituting an overall Virtual IT Cadre.
In the Finance category, the project that won Kerala its sole award is the Kerala Excise e-Service Delivery programme also implemented by the Kerala State IT Mission, Department of Information Technology. Here, a proprietary ServicePlus software developed by NIC Delhi is a configurable generic application framework, which is metadata based and is a single, unified service delivery and grievance redressal system, which facilitates rapid rollout of any service by any level of government. For the excise department, in the first phase, three services of Excise Department have been selected for electronic delivery and it has been successfully implemented. A re-engineering exercise introduced a customised application form, which was common for all applicants replacing the hand written applications used in the manual system, which had no format. The integration with e-Treasury was a major boost as the department/Government was able to fetch the revenue immediately on submission by the applicant through live direct transfer and thus utilise it properly. The project was done as a direct rollout across the state without piloting. Today, any licensee/citizen can apply for renewal service (FL 3, FL4A and FL 11) online. There is no need to visit any office for submitting application or collecting the deliverables. It has also resulted in the real-time, auto reconciliation with the Treasury which has voided the need for any manual reconciliation process.
The State already enjoys high financial literacy and people can be encouraged to save and invest more if there can be more value enhancing opportunities in the state. The Perspective Plan 2030 envisages Kerala as a highly knowledge intensive State where economic prosperity and high quality of life can be ensured along with equitable distribution of income, wealth and opportunity and its environment and cultural heritage is protected. IT policy 2012 aims to achieve up to half a million direct employment opportunities in the ICT (Information and communication technologies) sector and create at least 3,000 technology start-ups in Kerala by 2020. Government’s major e-governance initiative, Kerala State Wide Area Network (KSWAN) is being set up as a backbone of the State Information Infrastructure (SII), connecting Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode, extending to 14 districts and 152 Blocks of the State. The network will also connect 1,500 offices of the Government departments through wireless, leased lines and LAN. The infrastructure would support integration of a large number of G2G (Government-to-Government), G2C (Government-to-Citizen) services in hand with the applications hosted in the State.
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