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Mizoram’s future plan is to provide high speed digital connectivity to every village

Highlighting the many achievements of Mizoram's Department of Information & Communication Technology, in developing a digital ecosystem in the state, Vanlal Chhuanga, Commissioner & Secretary, ICT, Government of Mizoram, reminds that digital connectivity issue is the biggest challenge in Mizoram and all other North Eastern states

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What has been the long-term vision of the Government of Mizoram for enabling digital governance in the state?
The government has a vision of e-Development as the engine for transformation of government and empowerment of society. Digital governance holds tremendous potential to improve the way that government delivers public services and enhances broad stakeholder involvement in public service. To bring this change, we need to take advantage of the tremendous potential capability of Information and Communication Technology in offering better services using a citizen-centred approach. Innovation and development in recent years, whether through online services, big data, artificial intelligence, social media, mobile apps, or cloud computing broaden the way we look at digital governance. It enables the government to promote effective natural resource management, as well as stimulate economic growth and promote social inclusion, particularly of disadvantaged and rural areas.

It is envisioned by 2022 all villages in Mizoram will have access to reliable internet and mobile connectivity, and most government services will be accessible by the citizens through electronic devices from his or her doorstep and it will be achieved through sustainable development.

Recently, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Hon’ble Minister of IT, Government of India launched Vision Document for Digital North East 2022, at Guwahati, which provides a comprehensive roadmap for bringing about fast track digital transformation of the North Eastern Region. Here ICT Department of Mizoram will also play as a catalyst for achieving various visions and targets as laid out in the said vision document.

Which have been your key IT projects – for citizen services as well as streamlining processes?
Since the inception of Information & Communication Technology Department in 2008, we have implemented State Data Centre (SDC), State Wide Area Network, State Service Delivery Gateway infrastructure project. G2C services such as e-District, CCTNS, TPDS, Commercial Taxes, e-Procurement are also successfully implemented as Mission Mode Projects. The e-District services is integrated with UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New Age Governance) mobile application for service delivery to the public. With support from World Bank and Ministry of IT, Govt of India, we have recently implemented and launched Onetime registration and Online application for job seekers in Mizoram Public Service Commission (MPSC), which has substantially reduced the number of trips and the cost spend availing the service by the citizens. The department has also developed online bill system for payment of water and electricity bills.

Under the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB), we are implementing an online Single Window System for all required clearances/approvals for a project. This will cover 372 reforms points issued by the Department of Investment Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Government of India. We are also developing the services which is identified under Mizoram Right to Public Services and is expected to be complete within this year. More than 50 services are also implemented under “Electronics & Mobile Services Delivery” project which is in the pipeline for deployment.

In the process of developing a digital ecosystem in the state, are there any major achievements that you are particularly proud of?
Over the past ten years, the Department of Information & Communication Technology has a number of achievements in developing a digital ecosystem in the state. Disaster Management Application developed by the department was awarded National Award 2017-18 for e-Governance under the category ‘Best district level initiative through ICT in North East’. We were also awarded Skoch Platinum Award 2016-17 for e-District State Roll-out Project and Content Management System (CMS) Project. Skoch Order of Merit Award 2016-17 was also awarded for our Inventory Management System Project. We have obtained ISO 9001:2015 Certification for Mizoram State e-Governance Society (MseGS) in IT Consultancy and Software Development Services to various departments under the Govt of Mizoram and Mizoram SDC, in Information Security Management System ISO 27001:2013 and IT Service Management System, ISO 20000-1:2011 certified.

The departments has developed a CM Online System, Property Return Online System (PROS), Excise & Narcotics Network System (ENDNet), Total Information on Schools and Teacher (TIST), Online Leave Application System, etc.

Interactive Digital Class Room for development of science and mathematics was also successfully implemented in 20 schools. Thirty six schools were also provided with computer sets to aid teachers and students in the field of IT.

Kindly highlight some of the challenges that you face in terms of implementation of these initiatives in Mizoram.
High speed internet connectivity is the backbone for all digital programmes. Digital connectivity issues are the biggest challenges in Mizoram as in all North Eastern states, and will remain so for some more time to come in spite of concerted efforts by various parties. Under Digital India program, the Central Government has earmarked a huge amount of money for ‘broadband to all’ and ‘Optical Fiber Network to every village’. The National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN), which is now known as “Bharat Net”, has started way back in 2012, but till today the progress is far below the desired level. The extreme slow progress is no doubt due to the difficult hilly terrain of Mizoram, frequent landslides, heavy rainfall in most of the months in a year, constant road widening and road construction, but also due to initial preference of laying the optical fiber underground instead of overhead laying.

The other challenges during implementation of various e-governance projects are lack of legal support documents for mandatory delivery of services to the citizens, frequent transfer and posting of officers and staff while the e-governance project is being implemented, fund constraint for operational and maintenance of various
e-governance projects, etc.

What are your plans for the future ? How do you foresee the citizens of Mizoram receiving the maximum benefit through technology?
Our future plan is to provide high speed digital connectivity to every village using Optical Fibre Network. With the help of this digital infrastructure, we will provide free e-education to every home and tele-medicine in every villages. Online single window clearance system, i.e. EoDB will introduce for industries and businesses no waiting time, time lapse to obtain the services, reduce traveling cost for obtaining services, and transparency. We also plan to transform all the state government departments and their sister organisations into digital government to enable provide online services with secure online payment to the citizens.

Is there any other important factor that you would like to highlight regarding bringing about digital transformation in a state like Mizoram?
One significant factor is a political will, and a need for a leader with a vision to effectively utilise ICT to bring about changes in the system of governance to achieve an accountable, efficient, transparent, responsive, participatory and consensus-oriented government.

With the advancement of technology in all sectors, most of the traditional systems can now be enhanced with a more advanced, more efficient and cost-effective system. Head of departments needs to explore the possibilities for utilising this digital advantage available in different sectors for a productive and cost-effective development. Moreover, another important factor is willingness of government employees to adopt and utilise ICT as a tool to serve the citizens.


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