WEBEL: Setting high benchmarks in digitising citizen services

Samar Jha, Chairman, West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation, shares the many significant milestones of WEBEL since inception, the accomplishments and focused efforts on digitisation for providing better citizen services in West Bengal


Can you tell us a bit about WEBEL, it’s history and achievements? 

West Bengal electronic industries development corporation, goes by the brand name WEBEL. This company was started by the Bengal Government on 4th February 1974, so it is almost more than 47 years old. Talking about the financial growth; the company has grown from a 100 crore turnover to last year’s turnover of over 350 crores.  And hopes of touching the thousand crore mark in the next couple of years.

WEBEL was created to promote the electronic industry in West Bengal. So, the first 15 years of its existence, it focused primarily on electronics. Our company was one of the first companies in India to manufacture black and white TVs, and that is how the brand ‘WEBEL’ became popular amongst the masses. Some other efforts include:  

  • For the telecom sector, we were manufacturing walkie talkie sets in collaboration with Phillips.
  •  We had also manufactured tele printers with Siemens.
  • At least 84 low powered FM transmitters for community radios stations were supplied by WEBEL and this particular business still continues.

Gradually WEBEL delved into power electronics with our main product being large capacity UPS which was generally bought by the shipping industry because ships need very large UPS units.

And slowly WEBEL’s focus went into the IT sector with the advent of computers and the emergence of the IT industry in the 90’s.

What has been WEBEL’s contribution in digital transformation of West Bengal? 

During the development of the IT sector, WEBEL’s focus was on e-governance and promoting overall IT in the state of West Bengal. Some other initiatives on the IT front are: 

  • We had set up our own wide area network called WB SWAN
  • Connecting all police stations in the state.

As well as setting up CCTV connections in every police station to monitor the behavior and treatment that the citizens get in police stations.

  • In the state government headquarters, no paper file is accepted, as a result of our in-house development of e-office.
  • We are installing CCTV systems with software in the background, using artificial intelligence to do face recognition, number plate recognition of cars etc.
  • And last but not the least, WEBEL has been chosen as the company to take forward the New Town Kolkata smart city project. 

Can you share a few of WEBEL’s focused initiatives for digitising citizen services?

The tax payments in West Bengal are completely digitised, no payments are received by the government unless it is digital. Consequently, our tax collections have gone up. In fact after 2011 it has gone up three times in 10 years and our compliance is very high now, and this has been extended to the municipalities as well. Today the Calcutta Municipal Corporation is fully digitised, again WEBEL was involved in that project.

Presently, we are in the process of digitising all the records of the Calcutta High Court. All past records are being digitised which will be a great enabler for our legal delivery system.

Taking this further we have an application in place called  ‘Matir Katha’. Matir means soil and Katha means story/talk. It’s basically a database of every farmer’s land holding with its soil analysis. So that extension services like, what kind of crops to grow, when to grow,  how much to grow, how much should be irrigated, how much fertilizers to be given, and many other crucial details are made available in an online platform for the farmer, or via telephone, smartphone or through the local IT Centre, that is, if the farmer does not have a computer. So this has made a huge difference in the rural areas of the state.

Interestingly, because of our good work we get inquiries from other states, as we have already implemented very significant projects in our neighboring states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh. And they are very happy with the delivery and we are hoping to get many more e-governance and other relevant projects. To give you an example, Chhattisgarh has a very robust pollution control monitoring mechanism.  So their pollution control units are connected to the central computer using IoT software. We are giving a dashboard to the people who are monitoring the air quality in all the monitoring stations. WEBEL was highly instrumental in this project as well.  

digital transformationIOTITMatir KathaSamar JhaWEBEL
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