The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Andhra can coach beginner Bengal

Calcutta, Nov. 17: Roping in McKinsey is just the first run on the board; building an IT innings is quite another thing. That’s the message emerging out of the contrasting performance graphs of e-governance in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Bengal and Chandrababu Naidu’s Andhra Pradesh.

Both West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh have roped in McKinsey in their IT initiatives, but while Bhattacharjee’s flagship e-governance project, Banglar Mukh, lurches from one problem to another, Team Naidu’s only problem lies in how much to scale up the project.

“We have 500 kiosks under the e-seva project and we will take the number to 5,000 by next June,” said J.C. Mohanty, principal secretary, information technology and communication, government of Andhra Pradesh, here to attend Infocom 2003.

Compare this to the Bengal government’s first foray into setting up a government-to-citizen portal to offer a host of services, like downloading of forms and tender applications. Just about 81 kiosks could be set up – as part of the project executed by government’s nodal IT agency Webel and the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) -- across the state as part of a self-employment scheme. Franchisees shelled out around Rs 1.5 lakh, over and above the registration fee of Rs 40,000, to set up these kiosks.

“One expects a return on investments, but we haven’t got anything. The project doesn’t have any viability,” said a franchisee. “Only nine out of 52 government departments could supply any information to Banglar Mukh. How can you expect it to be of any relevance to citizens'” demanded a government official pointing to the lack of planning in the process.

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