Civic bodies told to part with database developed by Information Kerala Mission (IKM)

Moves are reportedly afoot for handing over the management of the e-governance system in urban local bodies to private IT majors in phases.

Local Self-Government Department sources told The Hindu here on Tuesday that Kochi Corporation had taken the lead by roping in a prominent company for Rs.9 crore and high-level consultations were completed of late for bringing another IT company to manage the e-governance system of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation at a cost of Rs.13 crore. Civic bodies have been told to part with the database painstakingly developed by the Information Kerala Mission (IKM) to the private players on striking the deal.

More urban civic bodies will soon relinquish the decentralised IT architecture developed by the IKM to suit their needs following the devolution of powers and will switch over to the private service providers who lend their support at exorbitant rates. This would be a drain on the exchequer and also affect the quality of services now being offered by the civic bodies at present. Edging out the IKM would go against the spirit of decentralisation of powers to civic bodies, the sources said.

Central aid

The changeover is being expedited on the premise that it is mandatory for securing Central government assistance apportioned for computerisation of civic bodies. Despite its minor infirmities, the IT applications developed by the IKM, Sevana for civil registration, Sulekha for preparing Plan projects, and Sankya for accounting in LSGIs have been found to be user-friendly and cost-effective and had eased the problems faced by the public in registering births, deaths and marriages, pension disbursal and also streamlining the accounting system.

The mission had been offering a variety of services and, more importantly, periodical software upgradation and maintenance at negligible rates. At the same time, on completing the assigned task, private players tend to demand substantial fees for attending to the technical problems that arise in the course of implementing a software and also for making periodical changes to meet the emerging needs, the sources said.

Earlier experiments involving private companies in managing the accounts of civic bodies were proved to be a failure and the IKM had to strive hard for putting it back on the rails.

Rather than going in for a thorough changeover, the State government should have taken the lead to give due technical support for strengthening the IKM and address the minor glitches being reported by its clients, the sources said.