Odisha: At the cusp of an e-Gov revolution

The Government of Odisha is taking ICT to the next level in its concerted efforts to enhance citizen services in the state. In an exclusive interaction with Vishwas Dass of Express Computer, Tusharkanti Behera, Electronics & IT Minister, Govt of Odisha, speaks about the new ICT Policy and how it will benefit crores of citizens

Could you brief us about how Odisha Government is determined to use ICT to the next level to benefit crores of its citizens? What is the government’s vision of embracing modern technologies to create jobs, train youth, improve services in various sectors like education, healthcare, urban development among others?
The ICT Policy of Odisha needs to be revamped and we would be coming up with a new policy by March 2020 to attract more companies. We aim to make the policy industry friendly which also ensures ease of doing business. We have created one Centre of Excellence in collaboration with Tech Mahindra and will also collaborate with other IT companies for setting up more such centres with other concerned stakeholders in Bhubaneswar to train fresh IT graduates in AI, cloud computing, blockchain and machine learning and they will be at par with graduates from
other states.

We are determined to use ICT in various sectors of governance for betterment of the citizen. We have mandated that each department would spend one per cent of their budget towards ICT. While implementing various IT initiatives in Odisha, we follow the Open Standard solutions. Important applications like e-District, HRMS and OSWAS are all developed in open standards and also with open source tools. The applications are based on an end to end open source platform which provides room for constant up gradation and advancement. These are stable, reusable and scalable platforms which have been seamlessly scaled to the entire state.

Government of Odisha is using various ICT interventions by leveraging new emerging technologies in key sectors like education, healthcare and urban development. In education sector, Odisha has an e-Vidyalaya programme in which schools are provided with ICT laboratory, internet and multimedia facilities for students. Also we have got an innovative initiative named as Student Academic Management System (SAMS) for e-Admission to the colleges across the state. Also we have ‘Mo School Pogramme’ connecting schools with their alumni using social media platforms which is a very unique initiative of the State. In the health domain, an application called e-blood bank is developed through which citizens can get the complete blood stocks on each blood group of each blood bank in district-wise in Odisha. The HMIS, Odisha Telemedicines, Government Doctor Management System, etc are few initiatives in the health sector.

What has been the progress of the Odisha Government in embracing information technology in the recent years?
We have made the e-governance system more vibrant. The work process in secretariat, which is done by OSWAS (Odisha Secretariat Workflow Automation System), has been made easy. The vision of the E&IT department is to use IT and Electronics to transform Odisha into an innovation and knowledge based society focusing on inclusive growth through citizen centric participatory governance. The government has been following a methodical approach by preparing overarching policies like ICT Policy, e-Governance Roadmap ,Promotion Strategy, IT Procurement Procedure, ESDM policy and guidelines and following closely to create an ICT enabling environment to enable citizen centric service delivery as well as boosting productivity and efficiency. Odisha has got an application named as OSWAS through which all file movements of the secretariat is done electronically and this automated work flow is continuing from 2008 onwards. The application is currently being used by all of the departments including the CM office. We have successfully migrated to OSWAS 2.0 with improved features for an employee friendly environment.
In the recent years Odisha government has put in place a strong disaster management mechanism to prevent deaths during natural calamities like cyclones. In fact, The UN has praised Odisha’s efforts in ensuring minimum damage in the event of cyclones.

Could you share any of such project where IT has played a key role and helped the government?
For dissemination of information we required a robust IT system for communication to the last stage of villages. We have reached people at the grassroot level by using IT. The revenue and disaster management department is using IT services to disseminate information during emergency and natural calamities to people living in villages. Odisha Government has developed various applications and projects where IT has played key role and helped improve the governance. A few examples are :-

  • The e-District project as an MMP under NeGP was implemented in all districts of Odisha
  • The e-Municipality project was implemented in all urban local bodies of the state to ensure on line delivery of high volume citizen centric services provided by municipalities
  • Steel & Mines department of Odisha has implemented i3MS (Integrated Minerals and Mines Management System) which brings transparency to the mining process
  • To increase the efficiency across the administrative structure, thereby improving the quality of services to citizens through a system of ICT, e-Registration, computerization of all 316 Sub Registrar offices across the State is implemented
  • Now an Integrated Finance Management System (IFMS) is being implemented by the finance department, to have a Centralized Core Treasury Management System in place.

How does the Odisha Government plan to attract investment in the field of electronics manufacturing?
We have earmarked 650 acres of land for IT and ITES and electronics manufacturing clusters to attract ESDM companies. I have also visited some IT companies across the country and discussed with them opportunities to be explored in Odisha. Info Valley is an ideally located and spacious industrial park with specific focus on IT, ITeS and ESDM sector needs. Along with aggressively marketing our electronic manufacturing cluster in various national and international platform, we are also modifying our IT, ESDM and BPO Policies to have edge over the competing states.

Can you share some examples where the government has used IT to simplify services for the people who have been benefited immensely?
We will be implementing Digital Assembly in association with National e-Vidhan Application (NeVA) project by NIC for a digital platform which is being used by some states like Himanchal Pradesh. Apart from that, some of the services like caste, resident and other utility bill payment system have been implemented digitally. The government is collaborating with various IT companies for more services for citizens in future.

What are your plans to take the Digital India project forward in Odisha?
The government wants to increase internet penetration in every parts of Odisha. Under Bharatnet project, we have implemented optical fibre connection upto Panchayat level and 16 districts out of 30 have already been covered. To take Digital India project forward, we are focusing on improving connectivity, promoting digital payment and literacy. Odisha is a 100 per cent Aadhaar enabled state and the State Resident Data Hub (SRDH) which has already been set up is bringing transparency in public distribution system and other social security benefits schemes of the state.

What are your plans for the Department of Electronics & Information Technology?
We would like to solve all problems of the citizens and focus will be given on better coordination among the departments to get IT expertise from the E&IT department. We have launched ‘Mo Sarkar’ or 5T project recently which aims to render services to the people at the grass root level. We are also taking feedback from the public randomly to access the progress of this project. The E&IT department is playing a huge role in making the Chief Minister’s 5T initiative successful. It will enable the government to reach the doorsteps of people. We are focussing on creation of an ecosystem to meet the expectations of IT, ITES and ESDM firms and offer them a better enabling environment in Odisha for their growth and success. For this we are creating physical, ready-to-use, plug-and-play space for their immediate use.

What is your opinion on using next generation technologies like AI, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing among others in Odisha?
I am quite optimistic and supportive of the usage of next generation technologies in various systems in Odisha. Currently, we are using various emerging technologies like AI, blockchain, IoT in various applications. In our grievance redressal management system of CM Office, we use AI for categorising sentiments of the social media messages for easy detection. This helps in quick and efficient grouping of all grievances received and forwarding to the concerned departments for redressal. In Paddy Procurement Automation System (P-PAS) application of FS&CW department, the government has implemented a private blockchain technology to validate the farmer ID in another node created using Hyperledger fabric before payment to the farmer.

Other areas of implementation in FS&CW department are currently being explored to realise the true potential of this technology and to make the entire food security value chain more secure, transparent and traceable. We are also in the process using AI enabled face recognition system for smooth entry and exit in the Odisha Secretariat.

e governancee-Districte-VidyalayaMo SchoolOdishaOdisha TelemedicinesOSWASTusharkanti Behera
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