“In Odisha, funding is not a problem for e-governance”

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Pratap Vikram Singh | March 16, 2015




Pradeep Kumar Jena, a 1989 batch IAS officer, is principal secretary of water resources department, Odisha. Until December 2014 he also held the charge of the information technology department. In an interaction with Pratap Vikram Singh in December, Jena talked about the steps to promote electronics manufacturing and strengthen e-governance in Odisha. Excerpts:
 
Can you tell us about any innovative projects in e-governance?
We have implemented the Odisha secretariat workflow automation system (OSWAS), which has made interdepartmental file movement online. We started pilot two years ago. Now all 38 departments are implementing it. Initially, in the first phase, it was meant only for the departments’ offices based in the secretariat. Later we extended it to three directorates on pilot basis. The plan is to cover all directorates.
The e-Sisu project of the women and child development department tracks children from conception till six years of age. It tracks children’s health initially, and later the school department tracks their enrolment in schools.

Has funding been a challenge in implementing e-governance projects?
The state IT policy says that two percent of a department’s planned budget should be spent on e-governance. Fund availability is not a problem.

What is Odisha doing to attract investment in electronic system design and manufacturing (ESDM)?
Bhubaneswar has a few companies in chip designing. Samtech, a company into high-end chip design, is headquartered here. They employ about 200 people.

We have given the in-principle approval for an electronics manufacturing cluster (EMC) at Bhubaneswar. We have identified 215 acres of land in the capital where an EMC park would be developed. We have started developing roads and power infrastructure. There is a software park across the road. Infosys will soon inaugurate a 50-acre campus.

Enterprises will be able to take benefits from MSIPS. The state IT policy offers some additional incentives.

Under the state IT policy, customised incentives can be worked out by the government in case of a cluster or mega project. If some company shows interest, we can negotiate the incentives. Some of these companies will visit us in March.

Are you also inviting software companies?
A few major software players are already stationed in Bhubaneswar. TCS has a team of 4,000 people. Tech Mahindra has 1,500, Infosys has 5,000, Wipro has 500. MindTree will operate by March and will have 5,000 employees. Infosys will have another campus and will add another 5,000 professionals. Mindfire Solutions is a local company which has employed 2,000 people.

We are also meeting Zensar, Mastek and other MNCs. These companies have to incur higher cost of operation in cities like Delhi and Bengaluru. They can reduce the operation cost by shifting to Bhubaneswar.

Can you tell us about the automated flood forecast system being implemented by the water resources department?
Until now rarely any e-governance project has been introduced in the water resources department. In collaboration with the IT department we are making the existing flood forecasting system more robust and precise through automation. Flood is a recurring problem in Odisha. Rain-
fall forecasting is the only information we have.

We have several rain and river gauge stations in place. The number of these gauge stations, however, is inadequate. We want to have a large-scale automated rainfall and weather reading system. The automated stations will send data directly to a central server. Once we start receiving information from the entire basin, we can use a 3D forecasting model and GIS to predict the level of water in the river after every rainfall.

We have about 400 rain reading stations. Out of these 127 are automated, and about 300 are manual. We will convert these manual stations in to automated stations and add another 1,000 automated stations. By the end of the project, we will have 1,500 stations which will continuously feed information into the server, which will analysis and generate scenarios.

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