by: Hema D
The Himachal Pradesh government has floated request for proposal for setting up 3361 Common Service Centers (CSC) called ‘Gram Sugams’ in all Panchayats of the state. The Gram Sugams are proposed to be set up in public private partnership as an extension of the district level e-governance projects. Successful implementation of the project will also lead to creation of more than 3500 jobs across the state and is expected to give a fillip to IT and IT enabled services across the state.
The centers will provide several facilities like getting a Driving License, Cast Certificate, revenue records, telephone and electricity bill payments etc. within the villages, saving a lot of travel time and cost of the villagers. For example getting a cast certificate presently one is required to go to the Tehsildar’s office and the number of rounds he would have to make is not sure. After the Gram Sugam is set up, the same can be taken from here after paying certain transaction charges that would certainly cost lesser than the travel time and cost on transportation otherwise spent.
The total state area for these service centers has been divided into three divisions, Shimla, Mandi and Kangra. The projects for all three divisions would be allotted through competitive bidding. In Shimla division 955 centres, 1293 centres in Kangra and 1113 centres will come up in Mandi division. Last date for submission of the bids, which are open to private companies and even Non-Government Organization (NGOs) is March 10, 2008 after which the projects are expected to be allotted in April.
The Gram Sugams will have to be rolled out within nine months from the date of allotment, which means that if all goes according to the plan, by this time next year the villages would be well equipped with one such centre at the Panchayat level. The centers would be connected through the Himachal State Wide Area Network (HIMSWAN) up to the block, division and state headquarter level, so that all ‘Government to Citizen’ services are made available at the Panchayat level and the person does not have to make several rounds to various government offices.
Government would extend revenue support to the companies for four years after which the companies would either be on their own to carry it off based on the service mix being provided by them. In this service mix which will essentially have the Government to Citizen services (G2C), the private company who bags and executes the project will have an option to give the citizens Business to Citizen (B2C) services which can range from e-learning, telemedicine, agribusiness, insurance, mutual funds, e-money transfer etc. This revenue generated through the G2C will have to be shared between the company and the government and that generated through the B2C services will help make the centers financially viable.The government services at the Gram Sugams will also attract steady foot falls at these centers, which will help the partner agency to promote its B2C services.