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West Bengal, R-Comm in talks on e-governance

GRASSROOTS CONNECTIVITY

Rajesh S Kurup  |  Mumbai 

The West Bengal government is believed to have roped in telephony service provider Reliance Communications for its e-governance project, an attempt to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas in the state.
The state government, which was planning to connect 3,600 gram panchayats and all municipalities through the Internet, had earlier roped in IT major Wipro and SREI Infrastructure Finance Ltd for the project. SREI was to set up around 5,000 common service centres (CSCs) in rural Bengal.
The Anil Ambani group company would help the state in setting up communication infrastructure, including providing of bandwidth and Internet connectivity, said sources close to the development.
The company would also look at setting up payment gateways that would help citizens to remit taxes and like electricity and water among others over online or through specially developed kiosks.
When contacted, a Reliance Communications spokesperson declined to comment on the issue and added that company was open to every opportunity available in the country.
The West Bengal government had undertaken an e-governance policy with an intention to connect its 3,600 gram panchayats and all municipalities on an IT network.
The network was being set up as a two-way communication mode between the governing bodies and citizens, with the government also keen on taking in citizens' opinions to run the state.
The state was also planning to set up e-governance counters where the high-population density was not backed up by proper information infrastructure, and a number of information kiosks, under its government-to-citizen (G2C) interface.
The project was being planned in phases and it was also planning for automation of land records and retail transactions, while the stress was also on e-education and adult literacy among others.

First Published: Tue, April 17 2007. 00:00 IST
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