If all goes as planned, the state government's e-governance scheme will go a long way in reducing corruption in the public's everyday interface with the the administration, say bureaucrats.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan's e-governance plan, which was unveiled on Wednesday, is aimed at curbing corruption in the state administration, say Mantralaya mandarins. The proposal makes extensive the use of computers mandatory in Mantralaya and other government offices.
"Chavan's aim to make e-governance mandatory in the all government department is aimed to reduce personal interaction of the public with government officials," a senior Mantralaya official said. "Minimizing such official and citizens interaction to a large extend will help in reducing corruption," the official added. "Within six to eight months, all state government departments will mandatorily have to use e-governance in their day-to-day operations," the official said.
For instance, a student seeking scholarship has to make several rounds of government offices; frustrated students have to finally 'bribe' clerks or touts to get their work done. However, with introduction of e-governance, students won't have to run from pillar to post and the money will be directly credited to his/her account. According to a senior government official the state government spends over Rs 1,000 crore per year on scholarships to nearly 15 lakh students.
Political observes feel that anti-corruption crusade by noted Gandhian Anna Hazare seems to have triggered Chavan's e-governance plan. Several years ago, Hazare had made accusation against several prominent politicians of state.
"The ruling DF is apprehensive that Hazare, buoyed by the phenomenal impact that his 12-day fast in New Delhi had on the nation, may now train his guns on Maharashtra, his home state. The emphasis on e-governance scheme is seen as Congress' move to neutralize the Hazare effect in Maharashtra," said a political observer.
Through e-governance, the government hopes to not only reduce paperwork but also benefit allied government departments. For instance, driving licence data with the transport department could be accessed by the police or the traffic department. The government also plans to have one main server where all the data would be stored instead of servers for each separate department.
Rajesh Aggarwal, secretary (Information Technology) said, "E-governance will enable various departments to synchronize data. This will not only result in paperless administration but also help government provide services to citizens at their doorstep or, in some cases, even at the click of the mouse.
"As the number of servers will reduce, the cost incurred on hardware, machines and maintenance too would come down. This will help government in saving good amount of money"
Meanwhile, in the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, a section of ministers raised objections over the existing software used for e-tendering and other government services.
"To this, following objections, Chavan said that National Informatics Centre (NIC) will now be looking into all matters regarding e-governance," said a senior Congress minister.
NIC is a premiere institution of union government that provides e-government solution to the government Sector.
Some of the benefits citizens can take once the e-governance is implemented in all departments.