Kochi

Akshaya to crack whip on unauthorised centres

The Akshaya District Project Office is set to crack the whip on unrecognised citizen service centres, which are posing existential threats to authorised Akshaya centres by eating into their business.

The mushrooming of such centres has for long been a grouse of Akshaya entrepreneurs with many of them coming up right next to Akshaya centres in myriad names that exuded an air of official recognition, misleading the public.

Though a government order was circulated among local bodies not to allow such centres, it was of little use.

“We are now planning to collect individual petitions from all our 256 Akshaya entrepreneurs complete with the number of such unauthorised centres in their neighbourhood and put up a file before the District Collector seeking action. This is the only feasible course of action since we cannot conduct any inspection on our own while petitioning the police is not practical either,” said Vishnu K. Mohan, District Project Manager (Akshaya), Kerala State IT Mission.

Open portal

These centres thrive by illegally tapping into the open portal on which members of the public are allowed five logins a month for availing online citizen services on their own without depending on Akshaya centres.

“Though that provision is not supposed to be used commercially, these centres do precisely that. There is the greater risk of data privacy breach as they resort to unauthorised use of credentials like Aadhaar card of customers for multiple logins without their knowledge,” said M.P. Chackochan, an entrepreneur of 15 years’ standing from Pattimattom.

There had even been instances in which operators of such illegal centres approached Akshaya entrepreneurs seeking unauthorised sharing of customer credentials for ₹50 to ₹100 per customer data.

“Having built trust over the years, Akshaya centres will often have some rush at any point, prompting many to approach these illegal centres to save time. But these centres charge fees arbitrarily and neither are they accountable for their service. Only recently, one customer came to me pleading to rectify the faulty application for a scholarship made by one of these centres while another centre at Chakkaraparambu vanished overnight after collecting money from people by offering to facilitate encumbrance,” said Sini George, a woman entrepreneur near Palarivattom.

No screening

While Akshaya entrepreneurs are cleared after a written exam and interview, no such qualification screening exists for opening such illegal centres.

They have added to the woes of Akshaya centres already hit by the proliferation of the Central government-approved Common Service Centres predominantly meant for various Central schemes but which invariably strays into other services in due course.

Delayed receipt of payments for services, unreasonably low service charges and incurrence of extra expenses for complying with COVID protocol have all exacerbated the survival challenges of Akshaya centres.

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Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 1:55:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/akshaya-to-crack-whip-on-unauthorised-centres/article32748439.ece

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