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Biztech Sep 4, 2008

Maharashtra To Tread Digital Path With Maha e-Seva Kendras

By Dhwani Pandya

The Maharashtra government recently launched the Common Service Centre (CSC) scheme called as the 'Maha e –Seva Kendra' in Mumbai. The government signed service agreements with four companies to set up CSCs in six revenue divisions of the state through public private partnership.

10,483 rural and 1,336 urban Maha e-Seva Kendras are expected to be set up by August 2009. The scheme envisages setting up one Maha e-Seva Kendra for every four villages. The state signed agreements with Spanco Telesystems and Solutions for the Konkan and Pune divisions, 3i for the Nashik division, CMS Computers for the Aurangabad and Amravati divisions and Reliance Communications for the Nagpur division.

Various government-to-citizen services like land records, pension schemes, ration cards and business-to-consumer services like railway tickets, utility payments, banking and agriculture will be made available through these kendras.

Dr Kshatrapati Shivaji, state secretary-IT, said that CSCs will provide an opportunity for inclusive growth by bringing the rural poor into the mainstream.

Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who attended the ceremony to sign the MoUs, said that this development will not only empower the rural youth, but also change the landscape of rural Maharashtra. "Our ultimate aim is to establish a digital Maharashtra. This initiative will help Maharashtra to become Maha-e-Rashtra." The CM also stressed upon increasing the viability and feasibility of this project by proper training of the staff, who will be working at these Kendras.

In the initial stages of the scheme, it was envisaged that the government would provide financial help, however, the private agencies selected for running the Maha e-Seva Kendras have now agreed to operate without a subsidy. Going further, they have agreed to set up 50 percent more CSCs in the state beyond what the government does. As per the release by the government, this scheme is likely to generate more than 50,000 direct employment opportunities in rural India.

The state CSC scheme is a part of the national e-governance plan, as per which the government plans to rope in private companies from the IT sector to establish 1 lakh CSCs across the nation.

Tenders For State Data Centres To Be Out Soon

On the sideline of the event, while exclusively speaking to Biztech2.0, Dr Shivaji said that the Maha e-Seva Kendra, State Wide Area Network (SWAN) and State Data Centres (SDCs) comprise the state government's three-pronged mechanism to serve citizens. The Maha e-Seva Kendras will also be connected to the SWAN in the months to come. The initial project report on SDCs is ready while the design process for the data centres is currently on.

With the rising cooling and environment related issues, the state IT department wants to undertake thorough research before finalizing the design for the data centres. Dr Shivaji said that the tenders for the same will be out in a quarter. To start with, the state government is planning to have a capacity of 5-10TB for the data centre and it will be built with a scalability of up to 10 years.

Dr Shivaji said, "We will use the latest technology for this data centre. Discussions have already been held with experts and data centre giants (service providers)". He went on to say that it is too premature to discuss other details about the project.

However, he added that in order to avoid any data security issues the data centre will be under total control of the government and a strict SLA will be formulated for support and maintenance with service providers.

by Dhwani Pandya

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