'Bhoomi' project earns top marks

DQW Bureau
07 Oct 2004

One of India's largest and elaborate e-gov-ernance projects Bho-omi, which
led to the com-puterization of land records in taluk offices across all 27
districts in Karnataka, has been given a favorable rating by Bangalore based
Public Affairs Center (PAC).

According to PAC, Bhoomi scores well on the counts of ease of use, decrease
in red tape and errors, cost of service and most important of all, lesser
bribes. PAC, which is an independent organization that assesses the performance
of public services, conducted the survey at the behest of the Government of
Karnataka. According to PAC's founder chairperson Samuel Paul, "They (the
government) wanted us to do independent assessment so that it would lend
credibility to the findings."

The report card notes some of the tangible benefits of using Bhoomi kiosks
such as con-siderable reduction in time spent in getting an RTC (or rights,
tenancy and cultivation document). The benefit in terms of man days saved is
approximately 2.1 million man days per year leading to savings of Rs 10.5 crore
every year in wages. The report extrapolates that the net saving from red-uction
in bribes works out to a saving of Rs 89.5 crore annually.

Concerns over introducing IT to bridge the digital divide seem unfounded
since 80 percent of the Bhoomi system users found it to be very simple compared
to only nine percent of users finding it difficult.

For a fee of Rs 15, a printed copy of the RTC could be obtained online at
Bhoomi kiosks in all 176 taluk offices. Around 66 percent of the users were able
to utilize the Bhoomi kiosks with no help compared to 25 percent in case of the
manual system.

Around 42 percent of Bhoomi users could finish their work in less than 10
minutes. However, the system still has not done away with some inconveniences.
For example, 18 percent of the Bhoomi users said that the appointed village
accountant operating the kiosk was not the person who signed the document.

The World Bank, which fun-ded the project, is holding this e-governance
initiative as a working example for other developing countries in Africa and
South America to follow.

(CyberMedia News)

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