Delhi targets hot new objective: E-citizenship

A year and a half after the Delhi Government’s announcement
of the IT Policy, it would be fair to have a report card on its implementation. Given the unique political and geographical compulsions of Delhi, the Government’s priority here was to usher in the concept of e-citizenship, which would use IT to make the life of the common man easier.

The IT initiative in the state is headed by Chief Minister,
Sheila Dixit. This being her ‘pet project’, she is impatient with the 2003
target. Dixit says she is “not happy” with the speed of implementation
but hopes the project will gather momentum soon.

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

The Delhi Government has “ordered” its
administration to use computers in its day to day working. It has sent
directives to all the departments to spend 4% 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 via the bulletin boards and emails.

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

According to Regunathan, at least eight government
departments are at an advanced stage of computerization and will soon have video
conferencing facilities.

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 its computerization program. The blood banks of 12 hospitals in 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 also
signed an MoU with NIIT to help train its teachers.

NDMC schools have also kept pace with computerization
according to 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 are to
be extended to primary school children as well.Although the Delhi police
department does not fall under 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 biotechnology 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.

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 Dixit is that land allocation is under the purview of the
Central Government, and thus the delay. Besides, there are other issues like
availability of housing facilities and the 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,” informs 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
attract 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.

Balaka Baruah Aggarwal/CNS
In New Delhi

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