Not all services available, CSCs under spotlight after 1st phase

DeitY secretary sets target of 15 crore transactions per month from CSCs

pratap

Pratap Vikram Singh | July 17, 2013



The government’s ambitious network of 1 lakh common services centres (CSC), the front ends for delivery of public services across 6 lakh villages, continues to grapple with issues of unavailability of services and viability, even as the first term of the telecentres project is nearing completion in most states.

While the government reiterates its commitment to resolve issues confronting the CSCs, kiosk operators believe that the government’s efforts are inadequate.

The difference in opinion became apparent at the fourth annual CSC Diwas, organised by the department of electronics and information technology (DeitY) on Tuesday.

Addressing the gathering of CSC operators, the state centre agency (SCA) and government officials from states and central departments, DeitY secretary J Satyanarayana admitted that there is now a need to look back and analyse the reasons for inequity in the growth pattern of village-level entrepreneurs (VLEs) and target the poor performers to improve significantly.

The department, according to Satyanarayana, did a study over the health of CSCs in a district and found extreme variance in performance. With a total of 126 centres, the district had 64,743 transactions per month (TPM) in May.

While the top 20 CSCs had 23,612 TPM (which is 36.5 percent of the total transactions), the bottom 20 centres had 262 TPM (which is 0.004 percent). Worse, the bottom 10 centres had zero TPM.

“We need to do such analysis and see how we can bring equity among people dependent on CSCs,” Satyanarayana said.

Pointing at the e-Taal (electronic transaction aggregation and analysis layer) initiative of DeitY, which aggregates transactions under electronic delivery of services across central and state departments, he said there are around 25 lakh transactions every day. The target, though, should be 1 crore, so as to reach the target of 30 crore transactions per month, he said.

“Half of these transactions, that is 15 crore, should come (from) CSCs,” Satyanarayana said. 

Elaborating on the challenges, Aruna Sundarajan, principal secretary and chairman, Kudumbashree, Kerala government, said over the years DeitY has not been able to ensure a critical mass (minimum number) of services that could be delivered from CSCs. Too much has been left to do at level of the CSC operator – or the village-level entrepreneur (VLE) – whether it be ensuring connectivity, footfall, services availability, innovations and awareness, among others, she said.

There is a need to create a standard, national model for specific services in the fields of health, education, financial inclusion and PDS that can be delivered across all 35 states and UTs from the CSCs, Sundarajan said. 

There are, according to VLEs, myriad issues at the village level. Sunil Kumar, husband of Anita Kumari, a VLE from Indragarhi in Ghaziabad, said to apply for a certificate an applicant needs to provide an affidavit on a stamp paper. Though there is an online system to submit the form at the CSC, to get the stamp paper one has to travel to district headquarters, which kills the purpose of delivering services in the village, he said.

Kumar also lamented that the government is not doing enough to make people in the local community aware about CSCs.

According to Balasaheb Sawant, the VLE from Urulikanchan, Pune, since the certificates being delivered from CSCs are not digitally signed, they have to be ink-signed by a government official at the tehsil level. The VLEs in Maharashtra have to take the certificates to the tehsil and get them signed by the designated official, he said.

“Often, they (tehsil officials) do not deliver the documents on time. And making rounds of the offices adds to the exiting issues of viability for all VLEs,” Sawant said.

Jaspal Singh, the VLE from Arsulpur in Ludhiana, said the government has provided just two services so far: online registration of PAN cards and collection of electricity bill payments. The applicants pay a fee of Rs 150 for the PAN card. At other places, though, the agents charge Rs 250-Rs 300 for the same service, Singh said.

According to Singh, due to unavailability of services at CSC villagers have to travel tens of kilometers to the block headquarters even to get a copy of the record of rights or caste certificate, which could be easily delivered through CSCs.

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