Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bangalore One portal still suffering from birth pangs

Bangalore One portal still suffering from birth pangs
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: A study on the usage of Bangalore One centres reveals that the state government’s ambitious e-governance initiative is still suffering from birth pangs.

While only 2 per cent of the electricity bills are handled by these centres, about 4 per cent of the water bills of Bangalore city are respectively paid here, according to Bescom and BWSSB statistics. Besides, three months after the Bangalore One centres were launched in the city, half the services promised are yet to be introduced. At present the centres are mainly being used to pay electricity, water and phone bills.

According to the centres, citizens are also using them to pay property tax. The facilities of the RTO and the Stamps and Registration Office - two of the eight utilities that were to come together and offer their services under one roof - have not been rendered availability yet.

The project, modelled on the lines of Andhra Pradesh’s e-seva, was planned and implemented by the e-governance department. Fifteen of the 50 centres were launched on April 1.

The objective of the Rs 10-crore project was to bring under one roof, the services of the Bangalore City Corporation, Bangalore Electricity Supply Company, BSNL, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, City Police, Regional Passport Office, Commercial Taxes Department, Stamps and Registration and Regional Transport Offices, so as to help citizens get information and pay their utility bills faster among other services.

The project was launched amidst doubts about the success of the single window concept as some of the utility agencies involved already had their own fully automated kiosks spread across the city as well as their services online.

An agreement was however eventually reached that these utilities will shut down their own centres which are within two kilometres of a B1 centre. As of now, all these kiosks continue to function.A senior official says about 4 per cent of the BWSSB bills are paid at the B1 centres.

According to Babu Rao, the financial advisor of Bescom, only 2 per cent of the electricity bills are paid at the B1 centres.

“It is a question of convenience. Our customers have become accustomed to paying their bills at our own kiosks which is closer to their homes,” he said adding that the B1 concept will slowly pick up.

But, the man behind the project, the Secretary of the e-governance department, Rajeev Chawla, says the existing problems were only initial hiccups.

“The project will be a success. We plan to introduce some of the remaining services on August 28. The rest of them will follow soon,” he brimmed with confidence.


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