It was a red letter day in the history of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly when Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who also holds the finance portfolio, presented paperless budgetary proposals for 2020-21 on March 6.
The audience in different parts of the country, especially in Himachal, witnessed thepaperless presentation of the Budget by the Chief Minister. It marked the culmination of the e-Vidhan project that was introduced by the HP Assembly six years ago. Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had launched the new technology on August 4, 2014, which was the outcome of the joint efforts of former Speaker BB Butail, Assembly officials, Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the National Informatics Centre Services (NICS).
22 states to follow HP model
Parliament is yet to adopt the e-Vidhan system though 22 states have initiated the process to build proper software on the pattern of the Himachal model, which may yield the desired results by the end of the year.
First paperless Assembly
The HP Vidhan Sabha has become India’s first high-tech paperless Assembly with the implementation of the e-Vidhan system and automation of various House committees, Secretariat and the process of constituency management by MLAs.
It was heartening to see the ministers and the MLAs reading the Budget on their laptops as soft copies of the Budget speech were not provided to them.
PM’s Digital India mission
The Chief Minister feels that the e-Vidhan system is in consonance with the Digital India dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He faced no problems in reading the budgetary proposals on his laptop as he is already active on social media.
He appeals to the Chief Ministers and the Speakers of all states to implement the e-Vidhan system. The HP Assembly is ready to provide technical assistance to any state willing to adopt the system. The government will also help the MLAs to send applications and proposals of their constituencies to the departments concerned and get the response about the action taken, he says.
Major administrative reform
The digital transformation of the Assembly by way of the e-Vidhan project is a major administrative reform to ensure faster and transparent governance. The e-Vidhan system is a sophisticated e-governance solution, which has fully automated the functioning of the Assembly and significantly minimised paper usage.
Former Speaker Rajeev Bindal took the system to the next level during his two-year term prior to his anointment as the state BJP president. Another former Speaker Butail was the one who took up the project with the Union IT Ministry, which approved it in 2014.
LS Speaker keen on project
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla is keen to adopt the Himachal model. The Union Parliamentary Affairs Ministry has asked all states and union territories to take the help of experts with regard to the e-Vidhan model. The constituency management system has been adopted in 32 segments and it needs to be extended to all 68 constituencies.
Agnihotri for live telecast
Leader of the Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri says the process of the e-Vidhan system was launched during the previous Congress government. He favours the live telecast of the proceedings of the Vidhan Sabha.
Rs 8 crore spent
According to Yash Pal Sharma, Secretary of Vidhan Sabha, Rs 8 crore has been spent on the project. Every MLA gets Rs 15,000 per month as honorarium for employing a computer-trained person to assist them in operating the system.
Dharmesh Sharma, Director IT to the Speaker, says that it has various advantages like online submission of questions/ notices by MLAs, processing of questions/ notices, sending questions or notices to departments, receiving replies from departments, and issuance of entry passes. It has made the working of the House committees paperless. The MLAs participate in online meetings of the House committees. The new technology makes it possible to view the agenda of the meetings and the replies from departments vis-a-vis assurances, audit paragraphs, questionnaires etc.
The e-Constituency Management system was launched in Palampur in November 2016 and several workshops were organised for MLAs, pradhans, up-pradhans and departmental heads and nodal officers in various constituencies.
The MLAs, SDMs, and departmental heads at the sub-divisional level and their associated staff have been provided dashboards to monitor the progress of public works, address grievances and sending messages.
The e-Vidhan project improves efficiency, consistency and effectiveness of government responses. Also, it aims to reduce time to meet the demands of citizens, provide effective resource management to improve the quality of administration.
(The writer is a political analyst. Views are personal)
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