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Agency chosen for e-kiosks in tribal belt

Ranchi, Nov. 28: Ending a year’s wait, an apex committee of the state government has selected a central agency to deliver IT-enabled services to all the 1,019 panchayats across Santhal Pargana.

The committee headed by chief secretary S.K. Choudhary extended the nod for setting up of common service centres (CSC) or pragya kendras to CSC-SPV, a special purpose vehicle that functions under the Union department of electronics and information technology (IT).

The project has been stuck in Santhal Pargana after the contract awarded to Zoom Developers was terminated by the state IT department last year, as the Delhi-based company was slow in executing it.

“The state committee has decided to rope in CSC-SPV for the purpose. We will be getting the same rate (as Zoom Developers) of about Rs 3,100 per CSC every month after the centres becomes functional,” Rajesh Prasad, manager, CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, told The Telegraph.

The six districts of Santhal Pargana are to supposed to get 1,019 pragya kendras in panchayats that will use information technology (IT) to ensure services such as issuing caste and other certificates, railway tickets using the Internet, banking facilities through village entrepreneurs and information government schemes.

Zoom Developers was appointed by the state IT department in 2007, but the company could activate only 10 pragya kendras during its stint.

The state government invited tenders as many as five times to rope in a new agency for the task, but to no avail.

During a review of the state IT department in September, chief minister Arjun Munda had even set an October 31 deadline to make 4,562 pragya kendras functional across Jharkhand. He had also suggested that the IT department could rope in CSC-SPV, if it failed to draw bidders.

The project has fared better in the rest of the state.

While United Telecom Limited was entrusted with the job to set up the e-kiosks in Ranchi, Hazaribagh and Kolhan, Delhi-based NGO Alternative for India Development is engaged in the Palamau commissionary that includes the districts of Chatra, Garhwa and Latehar.

According to figures available till September, 536 out of 703 pragya kendras are functioning in Ranchi, besides 1,335 out of 1,657 in Hazaribagh.

In Palamau, which has 600 kiosks, 264 are functional while in Kolhan 267 out of 583 are working.