We plan to take it to Cabinet shortly: Sam Pitroda

A consolidated national-level Geographical Information System (GIS), which will help the government deliver various public services efficiently, is ready and “we plan to take it to the Cabinet shortly,” Sam Pitroda, Advisor to Prime Minister on Infrastructure, said on Saturday.

Addressing the delegates of an international conference on ‘Leading organisational transformation for effective delivery', organised by the Centre of Excellence for Change Management, through videoconferencing from San Francisco, he said that India had 30 departments using different GIS for delivery of service. They include Telecommunication, Electricity, and Water Supply.

The work on a consolidated GIS was on for the past one-and-a-half years with the help of former ISRO chairman K. Kasturirangan.

Focus on infrastructure

Dr. Pitroda said that the United Progressive Alliance Government was determined to provide excellent infrastructure, which alone would result in effective delivery of public services. No other government had ever agreed to provide Rs.1 lakh crore for the purpose.

Three important steps in this regard were providing connectivity to all the 2.5 lakh panchayats through optical fibre, creating multiple platforms for delivery of services and launching series of mission mode projects. “Both the connectivity for all panchayats and the applications will be ready within 24 months.”

He pointed out that the Centre was simultaneously working on a National Knowledge Network, which would connect all universities, colleges, laboratories, industrial clusters, etc. at an estimate of Rs.15,000 crore. Of the 1,500 nodes planned, 1,000 had been connected. The rest would be installed in the next few months.

Besides, “India does not have any major infrastructure fund. We are planning to launch one.”

Role of e-governance

Admitting that delivery of public services in India was a “very complex issue”, he underlined the importance of e-governance.

Dr. Pitroda was confident that digital infrastructure would improve delivery of public services as it would bring about “transparency, accessibility and also accountability”. The Right to Information Act would mean nothing if proper information was not provided. Digital infrastructure could help make payments directly, which would automatically bring down corruption as well. Even the poorest could have day-to-day interface with the government.

While India had all the necessary technology, “we have the mindset of 19 century with processes of 20 century for the needs of 21 century,” he said.

When the Centre was so much interested in improving infrastructure, the States should also be in tune with the programme, he added.

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