Multiple services offered in areas of governance at the lowest possible cost

It is 3 p.m., and most establishments have downed their shutters for the afternoon. At the Common Services Centre (CSC) at Krishna Nagar though, it is yet another busy day with customers waiting patiently for their turn at the counter.

The CSCs, formulated by the Union government’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology, were set up across the country as part of the National e-Governance Plan under through public-private partnership. The CSCs offer delivery of multiple services under one roof, covering the areas of governance and private services.

Some CSCs, like the one at Krishna Nagar, also double up as a Permanent Aadhar Enrolment Centre. Each CSC is operated by a Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE). Cyril Anthony, 25, an engineering graduate from Ariyankuppam, is the VLE here; he is supported by seven other staff members. “We are making this service centre a one-stop shop. We want to tell the people that these services are given by the government at the lowest possible cost,” says Anthony.

Nominal charges

The fee for each of the services is listed at the CSC. These nominal charges are fixed by the government, with the minimum daily wages of the customer taken into account, says Anthony. A birth certificate is issued at the CSC for Rs. 11, on the same day, he says.

Paying your LIC premium on the other hand won’t cost you any money, while payment for BSNL phone bills comes to 1% as service charge. The Krishna Nagar CSC has recently started services in passport and PAN card application as well. A majority of the people though come for getting their Aadhar cards, according to Anthony.

The Supreme Court’s ruling that Aadhar is not mandatory has not affected the demand, he says. “Many people think Aadhar will be helpful in some way.”

Of the average 300 customers who come to the centre in a day, almost 150 are those who require Aadhar services. “We have applicants from different parts of the country such as Gujarat and Bihar coming here for Aadhar enrolment as we do pan-India enrolment,” he says.

“We are really happy with this place. They have courteous staff and good service. We got to know of it after much asking around,” says Madhumita, a dance artiste.

“They have drinking water and a fan,” adds Devasmita, her sister. The sisters had come for applying for Aadhar cards. There was also the odd dissatisfied customer. “I have had to come here a few times because there was some error in the details they collected for the Aadhar card of my children,” said Chitravel, who travelled to the centre from Veerampattinam.

Filling of e-forms for various government services, for voter ID, registration and for job skills’ development with the government are some of the other services the CSC provides. “People just need to come here and tell us what they want. Even if it’s a service we don’t have, we can help you. A person came here for commercial tax payment. We had not done it before. So we found out he needed to fill up Form K. He had also forgotten his TIN username and password. We helped him reset the password after contacting the Commercial Tax Department. We even offer booking of train, flight and bus tickets,” says Anthony.

Each VLE can suggest services to the CSC e-governance team. Anthony suggested that a summer camp in computer courses be conducted at his centre. The VLE and staff are also provided opportunities for further education and training, and VLEs are connected through a network like Facebook where they exchange information and help each other, says Anthony.

“Why go for agents”

The best part about this CSC is its working hours: It works from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (5 p.m. for Aadhar) Monday to Saturday, with no lunch break as the staff work in shifts. “Many people do not know what the CSCs do. They think it’s a private sector enterprise. Why would you go to the brokers or agents when you have this service?” asks Anthony.

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