From acting as electricity bill collection centres, providing mobile phone recharge facilities and even offering e-learning courses in remote villages, the central government's Common Service Centres (CSCs) are helping rural people lead easier lives. SREI Sahaj e-Village is to roll out over 4,500 CSCs this fiscal, a government official said.
SREI Sahaj e-Village is one of the main pillars of the National e-Governance Plan of the central government. A subsidiary of SREI Infrastructure Finance, SREI Sahaj is mandated by the government to open a total of 28,006 CSCs in West Bengal, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Bihar. As on June 30, the number of CSCs opened by Sahaj was 23,437.
"We will set up the remaining CSCs in rural districts of the six states this fiscal," SREI Sahaj chief executive officer (CEO) Sanjay Panigrahi told IANS in an interview.
"We are looking forward to expand. We started the operation in 2007-08. We have already invested Rs.200 crore for the CSCs," he said.
Sahaj has delved into infrastructural development relating to setting up, operating and managing the CSCs.
The Common Service Centres (CSCs) Scheme is a central government initiative to provide support for establishing one lakh CSCs in six lakh villages in India. The CSC scheme was started in 2006 with the vision to develop these centres as a delivery point for government, private and social sector services to rural citizens in an integrated manner.
CSCs are set up through Public-Private Partnership models. Owner of a CSC is called village-level entrepreneur (VLE).
"CSCs are single-door centres for providing services like G to C (Government to Citizen) and B to C (Business to Citizen) services to the rural masses. The CSCs are helping the rural people improve their day-to-day life," Panigrahi said.
He said through the CSCs, Sahaj was providing basically four types of services - utility service, educational service, job portal and financial service.
"Utility services include electric bill collection, telephone bill collection, mobile top ups, railway reservation, insurance premium collection, advertising, gas booking and examination results," he said.
E-learning courses, for which it has tied up with IGNOU and Microsoft, were being provided as educational services in the remotest of villages.
The CEO said job portals were created for providing a database of the rural workforce to entrepreneurs and for financial services, included selling different kinds of insurance products to villagers.
He said Sahaj has developed a three-tier data centre in Kolkata, at a cost of Rs.40 crore, which is connected with all the CSCs across the six states.
"CSCs are creating successful entrepreneurs in remote villages. They are successfully selling several services like DTH recharge, e-learning modules, mobile top ups in extreme remote areas. They are also playing significant role in railway ticket booking and electricity bill payments," Panigrahi added.