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Delhi inches towards e-citizenship

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DQW Bureau
New Update





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A year and a half after the announcement of the IT Policy by the Delhi Government, the report card for implementation can be declared as fair. The political and geographical compulsions of Delhi being unique, the Government's priority here was to usher in a state of E-citizenship where the life of common man would be made easier with the help of IT.

At the same time, Delhi was blessed with excellent infrastructure (bandwidth supply, manpower availability, access to corridors of power and somewhat okay power supply) making the job of the Government that much easier. Therefore the government is confident that despite temporary set backs in its implementation it can still achieve its target of turning it into a cyber city by 2003.





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The IT initiative in the state is headed by the Chief Minister, Sheila Dixit. Reportedly her `pet project', she is impatient with the 2003 target. Dixit said she is not happy with the speed of implementation but hopes the momentum will pick up.

The government is aware that its target involves much more than just spending big bucks. It involves changing people's attitude 'and that that takes time' S Regunathan, Principal Secretary to the CM and Principal Secretary IT said. "But government employees have begun to accept computers as part of their life and that is a huge achievement. Spending money to instal computers and deploying technology does not take time."

The Delhi Government has 'ordered' its administration to use computers in its day to day working. It has sent directives to its entire department to spend four percent of their budget on computerization. The Secretariat has installed a file monitoring system, a bulletin board and an email system. The CM has asked all employees in the Secretariat to communicate through the bulletin boards and emails.

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The Government has also recently launched a pilot project on video conferencing between the offices of the Transport Commissioner and the Delhi Vidyut Board Chairman.

Soon after the trail period is over, the CM is expected to confer with top government officials through video-conferencing. According to Regunathan, at least eight government departments are at an advanced stage of computerization and will soon be linked with

the video conferencing facilities.

Most departments in the state are at various stages of implementing their computerization programs. The Delhi Transport Corporation has computerized its bus pass facility reducing the waiting time for citizens to a few seconds instead of standing in queue for hours. The next stage is to network the various centers so that the database can be accessed centrally from any center. The department has already computerized its accounts and payroll system.

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The Sales Tax Department has also computerized its internal processes and has now extended the same to the tax payers who are the dealers. In fact, the department's computerization began with the intent of maintaining the documents of its 1.5 lakh dealers, which has the potential to increase to 15

lakh.

The Excise department has installed bar code readers in all its outlets so that every bottle of alcohol sold in the state can be tracked. The Government has recently allocated Rs 2 crore to the Delhi High Court to begin with their computerization program. The Blood bank in 12 hospitals of Delhi are expected to be networked within the next three months to track the availability of blood. The next phase would enable hospitals to coordinate on the availability of beds and make purchases online.

The Education Department has initiated its computerization program in a big way. It has installed computers in 115 schools last year and plans to cover 203 schools by the end of this year. The government has a target of covering all the schools by 2003. It has a MoU with NIIT to help train its teachers.

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NDMC schools have also kept pace with computerization with the corporation's expressed intent of computerizing all its secondary and senior secondary schools. The process is already on at 16 secondary schools and five Navyug schools. These schools are equipped with computers, Internet facilities and even LAN servers. Computer facilities will be extended to primary school children as well.

Although the Delhi Police do not fall in the ambit of the Delhi Government, it has been pursuing its own program of computerization. The accounts and personnel management systems are in place. The Crime Department and the Traffic Police have implemented IT in a big way with the department's IT expenditure running into several crores by now.

The Delhi Government has recently announced the setting up of a hi-tech city at Dwarka and a bio-technology park in South Delhi. The Government has allocated a 100 acre land to that effect and the estimated cost is said to be Rs 235

crore.

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The Government has been accused of falling behind other IT savvy Governments in its efforts to set up the hi-tech park. The main reason for this according to CM Dixit is that land allocation is with the Central Government and that has taken time.

Besides there were other issues like availability of housing facilities and demand for such a facility in the city (in the wake of satellite cities like Noida and Gurgaon). A feasibility study has been conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle which recommended the setting up of the hi-tech park says

Regunathan.

The Government's strategy in attracting investments is to educate citizens and make them IT-savvy which in turn will create the demand and pull investments to the state. Other government initiatives that are expected to spur the industry include allowing cyber cafes in residential areas and setting up computer access centers in slums to expose slum children to the use of computers.

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Balaka Baruah Aggarwal

(CNS)

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