Telangana Paves the way with Youth and Maturity

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Young at heart and state-of-the-art Telangana, as a geographical and political entity, was born on 2 June 2014 as the 29th state in Union of India. Now, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao envisions leading Telangana into a new era of inclusive and sustainable development.

Telangana being the youngest state has the energy and enthusiasm of the youth but it also has the inexperience that comes with it, and some problems that are part of the legacy. Since its inception, the State has performed consistently well and won accolades. The State once again showed that its heart (and policies) is in the right place and this is reflected in the SKOCH State of Governance 2018 ranking. Telangana has retained its second spot in SKOCH rankings consecutively for the second year.

As part of the State of Governance study, SKOCH sent request letters and also contacted through different channels like telephones and emails to all ministries, departments, municipalities, district administration and other government bodies for sharing project details and their achievements. There was overwhelming response from across the government departments and organisations of Telangana. A total number of 47 projects were shortlisted from Telangana for further assessment and evaluation. All of these projects were thoroughly studied and examined by domain experts. Based on the detailed study of these projects, Telangana was ranked second in the SKOCH State of Governance 2018 report.

Talking about the positives first, Telangana has rightly adopted the inclusive growth pattern and has embraced the philosophy that for the state to grow, reforms need to be such that while agriculture reaps benefits, the e-Governance too reflects a simultaneous surge in its performance. Telangana is working for a development that should include both agriculture as well as technology. So even while there have been dips in performance in some sectors since last year, a lot of innovative schemes and initiatives have been geared in the right direction by the government.

From giving an impetus to agriculture by providing substantial grant to farmers’ right when they need it to making sure that the municipal bodies break their archaic revenue generating models and explore new initiatives to generate revenues, the state of Telangana has clearly been on a path of selfdiscovery and out-of-the-box governance strategies.

“We believe in the three I mantra of Inclusive growth, Infrastructure and Innovation. And by innovation, our government believes in not just technological innovation but also societal and rural innovations. Technological changes that do not bring about societal changes or positively bring relief to the common man is futile and this is what our chief minister believes in,” said K T Rama Rao, Minister of IT, Telangana.

He further said that inclusive growth is very important in a country like India which faces many dichotomies. “While one India is sending satellites to Mars and is throwing challenges to NASA, we are also living in an India which does not have electricity or even roads.”

“As a young state, Telangana has not only addressed the basics with respect to inclusive growth opportunities but we have also ensured that we take out individual discretion from the system. We make sure that the process outlives the person who built this legislation,” Rao said.

However, one cannot overlook the few misses that marred the overall performance of the state and led to a fall in its ranking from second in 2017 to fourth this year.

SKOCH carefully studied 47 projects initiated and implemented by the State of Telangana in the various sectors like Municipal Governance, District Administration, E-governance, Sanitation, Education, Tourism, Power and Finance. SKOCH found that out of these 47 projects, a scheme namely Rythu Bandhu Scheme in the field of agriculture stood out and turned out to be a complete winner in all aspects. It is clearly the government’s most laudable project undertaken.

Besides this, there were a few other projects, thirteen precisely, that definitely hold lot of potential and have scaled up. These six projects were undertaken by the Telangana Government in sectors like e-Governance, District Administration, Police & Safety and Toursim & Culture.

Here is a comprehensive analysis of their various schemes that shone since their implementation this year and a detailed reportage on the areas that clearly need more thinking and planning. While the State has consistently been performing and devising new schemes to give a push to its agriculture and municipal governance over the last few years, some sectors that saw a significant improvement this year and scaled up in the overall ranking have been Tourism & Culture, Food & Civil Supply and Power & Energy, etc.

Top projects
Rythu Bandhu: A friend for farmers, a guide for the country

Since its inception, Telangana has been consistently putting its optimum efforts in the agriculture sector. The government’s dedication and zeal to deliver in agriculture has in the last couple of years only risen and its initiatives and schemes prove that this government means business when it comes to farming. One scheme that outshone all others is not just innovative but also path breaking in a country that is often blackened by farmers’ suicides due to debts. The scheme called “Rythu Bandhu” not just gives grants to the farmers to ease their agricultural needs but more importantly, does so at the time when they need it the most. So it is not surprising that the state has ranked first in agriculture sector for this year from its third position in 2016.

Telangana’s Agriculture Investment Support Scheme “Rythu Bandhu”, which is aimed at providing financial support of RS4,000 per acre per season to every farmer for purchase of inputs like seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, labour and other investment in the field operations of their choice for the crop season.

Being a rain-fed state, farmers’ debt is a parasite that has been infesting the state for decades. Institutional loans often take so long that farmers have to seek loans from personal lenders at exuberant interest rates. Rythu Bandhu, the brain child of Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, provides the much needed fillip to the farmers and saves them from the “deadly” debt trap.

30 districts, 10,558 villages, 58.16 lakh farmers--the task was indeed herculean and one of the biggest challenges was to calculate the total extent the farmer holds as the land revenue database procured from the revenue department had survey number wise areas of farmers and extent in acres and Guntas. The scheme required Land Records Updation Programme in 10823 villages of 568 Mandals in the State. Besides this, the security of the data at different levels was an important constraint too.

Relentless and a well etched team effort, however, helped the scheme see the light of the day. Started from the year 2018-19, the scheme has so far reached out to 24.36 lakh farmers out of the total 57.33 lakh farmers. A total number of 24.57 lakh cheques for the total amount of RS2,507.17 crore have been distributed so far.

Riding high on the success of the scheme so far, the government hopes that now onwards the farmers will have purified land records, they would be encouraged to take up kharif crops and with an increased crop coverage area, productivity and production, farmers’ income in the state too will be

Performing Projects
AMRUT Reforms

It is no secret that for a state to grow, its civic bodies need to function meticulously. Despite this open secret, most of the states in India still lag in achieving effective municipal governance. So the fact that Telangana has been able to not just perform in the area but also iron out the most fundamental problems of sanitation and civic reforms through its simple yet effective schemes calls for laurels. SKOCH studied their various projects in Telangana’s Municipal Governance and found that three of its schemes have the potential to address the common man’s woes. The feat is even more commendable considering that last year (2017), Telanagana’s Municipal Governance had stood at a feeble 9th rank and at 5th position in the year 2016.

Ironing out the most fundamental problem often lead to a path that is futuristic and towards development. Under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Scheme, Miryalaguda Municipality extensively implemented e-Governance and transformed Miryalaguda city and made evident transformation in municipality in governance and various areas of service delivery. There are 11 reforms and 54 milestones under the scheme which have been divided into 5 years period. Miryalaguda Municipality followed the road maps of each year from 2015-18 and implemented every milestone successfully.

As a result of this reform, there is a significant improvement of service delivery in Miryalaguda city and the municipal functioning is much more transparent due to e-Governance reforms. Municipal functionaries are more accountable as double entry accounting and internal audit reports are prepared and there has been an increase in revenue collection to 93 per cent.

AMRUT makes states equal partners in planning and implementation of projects as the states have to give project sanctions and approvals at their end. This form of cooperative federalism can be emulated in other cities as well and can yield similar results in urban reforms nationwide.

Municipal Bond Financing

Telangana government’s scheme “Municipal Bond Financing” with the tagline “Innovation Leads to Success” has surely been true to its words.

Municipalities normally confine to routine initiatives/activities within its own means as well as specific grant support from the government. However, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) floated the first tranche of S200 crore in the bond market for raising money for implementation and execution of its Strategic Roads Development Project (SRDP). The Municipal Bond issue evoked overwhelming response with S486 crore received which is oversubscription by 200%.

This step and its success is historic considering that in the last 60 years, the municipal and other civic bodies managed to raise S2,000 crore from the bond market. The Corporation proposes to raise a total of S1,000 crore in future from the bond market. The step is praiseworthy because GHMC explored the issue of huge fund requirement with low cost borrowing possibilities without pledging properties of GHMC or State Government Guarantee. It took a conscious decision of raising funds through Municipal Bonds Issue to meet the fund requirements.

The road to this success, however, wasn’t so smooth. An earlier attempt in the year 2016 made by the GHMC for the bond issue had not garnered enough response from the credit rating agencies, with ICRA giving it a rating of A+ only. The expenses were outpacing the income stream of GHMC resulting in sharp decline in the net surplus. Various measures were taken by the management of GHMC and the Corporation increasingly moved to self-reliance. With the help of intermediaries most of the challenges resolved and ensured successful bond issue with one of the top Credit Rating of AA (Stable) from two rating agencies.

Our Art-Our Identity

Telangana is a treasure-trove of various art forms since many centuries. But the art forms and the artists have neither recognised nor get their due identity in the previous regimes prior to the formation of Telangana State. This was rightly identified by the Department of Language and Culture and after a detailed research, had classified all the art forms broadly into various categories. It now plans to issue identity cards to approximately 4.50 lakh artists of various crafts and art forms across the state, thus creating first of its kind online database of the artists in any state. The entire process of registration, enrolment, and distribution of the I-cards would be executed electronically so that the artists, even in the remotest areas, get the benefits at their doorsteps thus saving time, energy and their resources.

After an extensive research of one year, a separate portal (both web and mobile application) was made so that the artists could register themselves online by uploading the credentials and to enable to get the Identity Cards directly to their emails.

This portal includes all the information about the department’s activities and other information like Old Age Artist pensions details, awards constituted by the Government of Telangana, books published by the department and up to date photo galleries of various National, State and Local cultural programmes and events organised by the department.

Property 360

SKOCH found that another project by Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) that is both innovative and yet traditional enough to be feasible is Property 360.

Property360 is a true reflection of unification of various government departments where user databases of different databases were linked, even when these databases did not have any common unique identifiers. The project helped GHMC identify and plug main sources of lost tax revenue through reconciliation of data available with different departments.

Property360 is an Information Technology solution for widening and deepening of tax base by uniquely identifying entities (properties and trades) in the GHMC area. Property360 assist in improving tax collection and in plugging tax leakages by adopting an integrated and customisable approach of Entity Resolution and Master Data Management. The solution also helps in increasing tax revenue by improving the accuracy of information about current and potential tax payers. It helps in eradicating certain issues like registered taxpayers who underreport liabilities, nonregistered users, and the use of multiple tax ID numbers.

Electronic Point of Sale

The Telangana Food and Civil Supplies department started its pilot project with 1545 Fair Price shops in the GHMC areas of Hyderabad, but with the implementation of ePoS throughout Telangana, the number of Fair Price shops has risen to 17026. The department has introduced state portability where ration (essential Commodities) can be taken anywhere throughout the state of Telangana.

The important and noteworthy features of state portability are that now the cardholders can draw ration from any nearest shop irrespective of the shop that has issued the card. In case any FP Shop gets suspended or closed due to any reason, the card holders need not worry as they can draw ration from any preferred shops, within the State.

The State plans to achieve an endto- end Fair Price Shop automation solution to bring transparency and accountability in the Public Distribution System (PDS). It plans to implement the automation on a Build- Own-Operate (BOO) mode, which means that the selected private partner shall Procure, supply, install and commission the set of devices required for FPS automation and also aspires to develop and customise the POS application, and integrate it with the central server.

Employment through Skills Training

In a bid to raise the employability through skill development, the State of Telangana has formulated Mission for Elimination of Poverty in Municipal Areas (MEPMA), the nodal agency to implement Employment through Skills Training & Placement (EST&P) component under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) of Government of India.

Around 20,500 have been placed in various jobs, which have given a fillip to the development of backward areas and the urban poor. According to the government data, every month, RS17,42,50,000 is earned by these placed candidates. Unemployed youth, particularly those who couldn’t continue their education, now have viable options to upgrade and learn new skills for a better future.

Catching Up Projects

As mentioned earlier, SKOCH studied almost fifty projects initiated by the Telangana Government and found some breakthrough ideas as well as a few promising ones with lot of potential. However, there is yet another list of projects that have the idea, innovation and what is lacking is proper implementation and execution. If these projects are given a little more thought and handled more deftly they can be real winners for the state’s overall development. SKOCH has shortlisted six such projects which are surely catching up and the country needs to watch their performance in the times to come.

Project LED

Getting rid of the traditional streetlights and tube lights that were used in streets and are known to guzzle lot of energy, Municipal Corporation of Karimnagar installed LED lights in the streets. This one move has singlehandedly accounted in savings up to 35% in electricity bills. Besides replacing 14,735 street lights in Karimnagar city, the corporation also ensured that the technology adopted is such that the street lights in go off and switch on automatically due to their nature censor timers. The technology would not only save power but will also reduce the involvement of the manpower in maintaining the street lights in town.

This one seemingly small step reduced the electricity bills, reduced manpower consumption and has immense environmental benefits as well.

CCTNS Project

The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS) is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) by the Telangana State Police and the aim of this project is to improve connectivity and increase the crime fighting capabilities of the Police. It facilitates collection, storage, retrieval, analysis, transfer and sharing of data and information at the police station and between the police station, district and the State Headquarters and the Central Police Organisations.

With the project in place, citizens now have multiple channels to access services from police, simplified process for registering and tracking incidents, petitions and FIRs, and a much simplified process for accessing general services, registering grievances, tracking the case and so on. Besides citizens, even the police department is benefitted by this project since now they have enhanced tools for investigation, centralised crime and criminal information repository along with the criminal images and fingerprints with advanced search capabilities.

TApp Folio

T App Folio is a comprehensive, single-window, Mobile Service Delivery Gateway (MSDG) built by the government of Telangana to deliver G2C, B2C, services and to broadcast information to the citizens. This, one of its kind mobile delivery gateway, caters to phone users via SMS, IVRS, USSD along with the usual mobile web and apps.

T App Folio is the common infrastructure to be used by all government departments in Telangana.

The State Government has launched T App Folio with about 150+ services including the top Certificate services like Birth, Death, Income; RTA services, fee payments, bill payments, informational services, location services like MeeSeva centres and Ration shops. The government plans to make available many more services from diverse departments over the next 12 months.

E-office Implementation in Mahabubnagar District

Mahabubnagar is the only district to have implemented e-office in more than 30 of its departments and offices. Taking a step forward into the era of paperless administration, the district has taken initiatives in e-Governance. It is a Digital Workplace Solution that replaces the existing manual handling of files and documents with an efficient electronic system. Being an electronic system, it has its inherent advantages such as data is stored digitally with audit trails for every transaction being done. Regular backups and Disaster Recovery systems are in place which ensures that government files are not damaged in case of any mishap. In addition, this being a web-based application; people can access it from anywhere on https:// mahabubnagar.eoffice.telangana.gov. in Website and continue working while at offsite.

With a systemic implementation of the project, the Mahabubnagar District has revamped the conventional paper based office operations to a virtually paperless workplace.

Sustainable Solid Waste Management

Sircilla being a first-grade town, has a dumping site available for the municipality and all the waste collected is carried to the landfill site through municipal vehicles. There is a cent per cent household level coverage of solid waste through door to door collection, where segregation of dry and wet waste is done as well. The munipilality has distributed as many as 50,000 green and blue dustbins for the segregation and Area Coucilors as well as Municipal Staff actively participated in creating awareness regarding the same. The segregated waste is then handed over to the vermicomposting unit which is located within the dumpng yard. With segregation done at the collection point, the town has set an example for the other parts of the country on solid waste management.

Solar Power Project

Northern Power Distribution Company of Telangana Limited has pioneered a “Solar Power” project where they facilitate the injection of some solar power at 33KV levels to maintain grid frequency without loading on transmission system. Solar generation is nearby 33 KV Sub-stations in different area of TSNPDCL. This has resulted in lesser energy losses and grid maintenance has become an easier task.

Challenges ahead

Telangana has been a mixed bag this year with a few misses and many hits. It is young and vibrant and the state has performed very well in the past. The ideas as well as the execution seem to be in the right place and there are bound to be teething troubles in various sectors. However, the fact that it slipped from its second position last year to fourth this year also needs to be taken into consideration. While there have been incredible initiatives in fields like agriculture and municipal corporation, some areas still need more focus. The new energy, which has been an asset for the state should not turn into its weakness and it should be driven in the right focused direction.

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