a) e-Sevanam Portal
The Government of Kerala provides many services to people in various sections of the society through different government departments. The vast majority of the services covered under the Right to Services Act (RTS) have been made online by various departments.
In this pandemic situation, people need to have access to all government services through a unified portal from the comfort of their own homes without having to go to government offices. Currently, citizens can access online services of various departments only through the website of each department which causes practical difficulty. In this context, the Government of Kerala has designed a centralized Kerala Service Portal called “e-Sevanam” incorporating the online services of all departments. The declared policy of the Government of Kerala, ’Internet is my right’ is implemented through the Kerala Service Portal www.services.kerala.gov.in. This disabled-friendly portal aggregates 500 plus services from 50 plus departments in the initial phase. Parallelly, a mobile application “m-Sevanam” has also been made ready for mobile-friendly services. In addition to Universal search, the portal segregates services based on Target Users (Public, Students, Farmers, Women and Children, Youth and Skills Development, Social Security and Pensioners, Utilities and Others). Forthcoming releases of Portal shall include Single Sign-On for all online services.
m-Sevanam mobile app launched as a Good Governance Initiative, has used technology to aggregate almost all online services (G2C Government to Citizens and G2B Government to Business) of Government of Kerala, in a single platform for the Citizens of Kerala. Further, the impact of the pandemic has accelerated the need for swift access to Government Services at the comfort of their home. And this has been the driving factor for many departments to shift their services from offline to online mode.
e-Office File Management system (e-File) is a Digital Workplace Solution to automate File Management in Government offices. The e-Office project in Kerala envisions modernizing government offices and getting rid of manual paper file processing and replacing it with a digital workflow system. In the process, the government offices will be transformed to ‘paperless office’ gaining the immense benefits of faster decision making aided by electronic mode of communication.
e-office has also been implemented in Government Secretariat, 53 Directorates / Commissionerate, 14 District Collectorates, 21 RDO offices / Sub Collectorates, 21 Taluk Offices 234 Village Offices and 56 other offices.
Leveraging IT infrastructure to empower, automate and connect all the activities involved in Government Procurement, Government of Kerala envisaged implementing a standardized e-Procurement system in 2012. It provides a pioneering, cost-saving, and efficient method for ensuring greater transparency in state-wide procurement information, which will ultimately lead to increased effectiveness and accountability. The growth of emerged technologies and socio-economic development within the State has made a notable impact on e-Procurement system. e-Procurement is thus one of the rapidly growing areas of e-Governance implementations in Kerala. A per the existing guidelines, all procurements / works above Rs. 5 lakh need to be carried out through e-tender platform of Government of Kerala.
Kerala is the first State in India to take initiative for the mass transformation of ICT by the implementation of district-wide e-literacy project ‘AKSHAYA’ in 2002, with an intention of ‘Empowering Kerala’. The venture paved the way for the migration of Kerala to the first e-literate state.
The rollout phase was successfully completed by imparting training to at least one member of a family to be e-literate. Basic training was provided to the selected candidates to familiarize with the basics and scope of IT with the support of relevant hands-on. It is the largest rural e-literacy training project ever organized worldwide. Subsequently, Malappuram has been declared as the first e-literate district in India.
Akshaya is acting as the major instrument in rural empowerment and economic development through e-Governance. Akshaya Centers are being set up within a maximum of 2 kilometres for any household for the effective delivery of Government services to the public. Each Akshaya centre is well equipped with necessary computers, fax, printers, telephones, broadband internet connectivity and necessary software. Kerala State IT Mission is one of the core partners in the implementation of the Akshaya projects in the state.
Akshaya is succeeding in its journey by making Government services more accessible to the rural areas, thus reducing the time and money people spend, trying to communicate with public officials. It also ensures fast and transparent access to local Government data and documentation.
Role in Governance
Akshaya Centers are identified as the medium for delivering services between:
- Government and Citizen (G2C)
- Quality services at lower cost
- Easy and transparent communication
- Delivery of e-Governance services to the public through a wider network of e-Kendras
- Payment of utility bills and fees through Akshaya e-Pay
- Skill development programmes throughout the State
- Content development on locally relevant contents in local language, establishing rural connectivity.
- Doorstep access to e-Learning, e-Krishi and e-Commerce
Generally, most of the Government to Citizen (G2C) interactions are taken place at District level. Districts, thus act as front-end windows of Government to deliver customized services to the public in an efficient way.
The Government of India conceptualized e-District project in 2010, to improve the experience of G2C interactions and thus enhance the efficiency of seamless service delivery to the Citizens. This will also help in redesigning the District level departmental activities to provide better service.
In line with this scope, Government of Kerala has initiated an end-to-end online service delivery platform that ensures transparency and integrity throughout the exchange of information between the Government and the public. Concisely, citizen’s expectation towards government’s response time will be improved because of this automated virtual counter.
A number of sensitized services are made available to the public through e-District portal https://edistrict.kerala.gov.in/ on a 24X7 basis. The portal is maintained and monitored by KSITM.
The major citizen-centric services available through the e-District portal are:
- Revenue Department Certificate Services
- Right to Information (RTI) Services
- Public Grievance Services
- Payment Services- Utility Payment Services, Calicut University Services, Welfare Board Fee Payments, Police Department Payments
- Revenue Court Cases
- Forest Department Services
g) Citizen Contact Centre
The relevance of a Government Contact Centre increased in the context of e-Governance and with the implementation of the Right to Information Act 2005 for providing information to the citizens in a user-friendly manner. The Government Contact Center-Kerala named as ‘Citizen Call Centre’ at Thiruvananthapuram was established in May 2005, envisaged as a Government to Citizen (G2C) interface. It serves as a single window IT-enabled facility enables quick dissemination of critical Government information, which is otherwise either inaccessible or difficult for the citizens to access.
The Government Contact Center-Kerala (GCC-K) covers the services of around 65 departments.
The facilities provided by the Contact Center are:
• Act as information helpline to the common public in both English and Malayalam
• Provide informational services and complaint registry services
• Round the clock services by trained executives
• Access from anywhere in Kerala without any queue and delay, at local call rates
Types of service
The Contact Center offers two types of service – Information Services and Complaint Registry
Information Services : Information services provide information to the public on the various activities and schemes implemented by the government. The answers to the queries are collected and arranged in an electronic database in the form of Frequently Asked Questions.
Complaint Registry : The GCC-K serves as a front end to receive complaints in both English and Malayalam for senior officials/ Ministers of the government. The complaints received are transferred to the concerned person. The complainant can make further enquiries on the action taken.
The value to the public is that Government information is publicly accessible; processes are well explained and thus ensuring more transparency, which improves democracy and service.
- Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF)
- State Consumer Helpline
- Food Safety Department
- Legal Meterology Department
- Entrance Commissionerate
- Calicut University Student Helpline
- Commercial Tax Department
- Motor Vehicle Department
- m-Kerala/State Services Delivery Gateway
GCC-K Helpline Numbers
General Numbers: 155300/0471 – 2335523 ( Toll Free) , 0471 – 2335523 (Chargable)
State Consumer Helpline: 1800-425-1550
Legal Metrology: 1800-425-4835
FRIENDS’ is an ongoing project of KSITM. It is a single window ‘no queue’ integrated remittance centre, where the citizens have the opportunity to pay all taxes and other dues to the Government, under one roof at no extra cost. An average 1000 -1050 people visit each centre every day. Payments of the Kerala State Electricity Board, Kerala Water Authority, University, Local body, Land Revenue, Civil Supplies, Motor Vehicles, BSNL, Electrical Inspectorate etc can be made at FRIENDS centres. The computerized counters work from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm, including all Sundays. The project was launched in the capital city of the State – Thiruvananthapuram, in June 2000. Vide G.O (M.S) No 4/2000/ITD dated 03.03.2000, the Government of Kerala approved the setting up of a pilot project of a computerized Integrated Service Centre at Thiruvananthapuram which would function as a multiple bill collection agency for various departments. The co-ordination and implementation of this pilot project was entrusted to the IT department. FRIENDS was replicated in thirteen district of the state in the 2001.
The Enterprise enabled ‘any-where any-payment’ system titled “FRIENDS Re-Engineered and Enterprise Enabled Software” (FREES) has been developed by National Informatics Centre, Kerala State Unit to replace the software running in individual FRIENDS centres. The centralised web enabled system will help the citizens to pay utility bills at any FRIENDS centre. The participating departments can upload the demand details (bill data) and download collection details themselves. Alternately, the participating departments can expose web-services in their servers to deliver demand details which can be consumed by FREES as and when required. Collections are made available to departmental server immediately for selected services.
FREES Application has centralised database system with the feature utility payment can be done on any FRIENDS or AKSHAYA all over Kerala with a single user interface. Through this system new services or agency can be added without changing the software. It has online data fetching and updation from and to the departmental servers- for Vehicle Tax, Water Bill and Property Tax. FREES (FRIENDS Re-engineered Enterprise Enabled System) was implemented in all FRIENDS centres and AKSHAYA centres across Kerala.
FRIENDS centers are presently intended to function as per the principle of “Collect & Remit “and ‘Receive & Forward” methods offer the following services:
• Electricity Charges
• Water Charges
• Payment to BSNL (Land Line CDR Bills, Mobile Bills, WLL Bills)
• Payments to Electrical Inspectorate
• Payments to Revenue Department
• Payments to Civil Supplies Department
• Payments to Local bodies
• Payments to Motor Vehicle Departments
• Payments to Universities
• Cultural Welfare Board
• Labour Welfare Board