Shimla: Connectivity coupled with difficult terrain remain major problems as the state government attempts to bring all panchayats online by 2009-10, and make access to relevant information available to the entire rural areas.
Ravinder Batta, director rural development and Panchyati Raj told MH News Network, of the 3243 Panchayats in the state, 1185 of them were provided with computer last year and an equal number would have computers installed by end of the current financial year. The remaining would be covered by March 2010, he added.
Last year we spent Rs 6.5 crore on computer for Panchayat bodies, which included all the block samitis and the zila parishads and this year we have kept aside and additional Rs 6 crore for the purpose, said Bhatta.
However with there being no internet connectivity in much of rural Himachal, many computers are lying unused and some are only being used to elementary records.
The computer provided to us is lying sealed as no one knows how to operate it, said Shanno, a lady panchayat members in Shimla district.
Sohan Sharma, a member of another panchayat said, “we have found some productive use for our computer.
The secretary manages to register birth and deaths, maintain the family registration and some account of income and expenditure of the panchayat on it. We are also using it to register job cards under the NREGA scheme, he said.
The state wide area network HIMSWAN that was launched about a year ago has been able to cover only about 25 of the 77 blocks in the state, said an rural department official. At some blocks we have been able to provide connectivity from BSNL and the connectivity would only be extended to Panchayats after all blocks are covered, he said.
Batta says, “to avoid duplicity, we are writing to the central government about shelving VSAT connectivity for panchayats which was initially proposed and are seeking permission for being allowed to use the HISWAN network for the purpose.”
Other than Panchayats, the revenue department has been able to bring much of its offices online and the social security department is working at bringing aganwari data base of child and maternal healthcare programs online soon.
To make available all kinds of information to the people, the department of information technology has recently handed out setting up of one stop Sugam Centers to the private sector.