Umesh Prasad Sah, director, IT, Department of IT and e-governance, Government of Jharkhand

The Jharkhand government is taking concrete steps towards enhancing the state’s information and communication technology infrastructure. Apart from promoting the IT sector, it is encouraging the uptake of new and advanced technologies in government operations. Umesh Prasad Sah, director, IT, Department of IT and e-governance, Government of Jharkhand, talks about the state’s IT and telecom initiatives, the key applications in use and the challenges faced. Excerpts….

What are some of the enterprise and mobility applications that your department currently uses?

The key enterprise application that the state government has implemented for its various departments is the Works and Accounts Management Information Sys­tem (WAMIS). WAMIS is an enterprise-wide management system that caters to the financial requirements of the 131 departments of the state government. All the e-district applications launched by the government are mobile enabled. Moreover, all the applications being built by the state government for employees as well as citizens feature mobile connectivity.

What are the key IT and telecom initiatives that have been taken by your department over the past one year? How have these helped enhance the department’s performance?

We have been working on improving the IT infrastructure in the state. BharatNet is being implemented in full swing to ensure internet connectivity down to the village level. The government is connecting all gram panchayats with optical fibre cable (OFC) along with Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL). OFC connectivity has already been implemented in 1,040 gram panchayats across seven districts. For the remaining 17 districts, we are creating a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for extending connectivity.

For further strengthening e-governance in rural areas, we are setting up a rural Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi services have  already been operationalised in 10 gram panchayats and will be extended to 404 panchayats by end-December 2016. We are also setting up technology parks in Bokaro, Ranchi, Dhanbad and Jamshed­pur. The government is planning to take steps to ensure the availability of skilled personnel for our IT sector initiatives.

What are the key challenges that government enterprises face with respect to managing their IT and telecom infrastructure? What steps have you taken to overcome these?

There are several challenges that Jharkhand is facing. Connecting all the gram panchayats through OFC is a big challenge. So far, BBNL has provided OFC connectivity in 1,040 out of 1,412 panchayats across seven districts in a linear mode. Ring connectivity for the remaining panchayats in 17 districts and the ring structure of the already connected seven districts will be done by the state SPV. We have started work on the formation of the state SPV for OFC connectivity up to the gram panchayat and further extension to all government establishments in the panchayats. Currently, 1,200 common service centres across the state have wireless connectivity. The government has also issued an industry-friendly mobile tower policy, which has helped operators provide connectivity in all areas.

“The state government has issued an industry-friendly mobile tower policy, which has helped operators provide connectivity in all areas.”

What is the level of technology adoption in government enterprises? Is your department using/planning to use any of the above mentioned technologies?

The state is promoting the use of new and advanced technologies. The government is using cloud computing in election data on a state-wide basis for the addition, deletion and modification of electors’ data. More­over, a resource centre for cloud com­­puting, internet of things (IoT) and big data analytics is being established in Ranchi to guide all the state departments in the use of these new technologies. The state will also support students and entrepreneurs in developing their applications using cloud services and big data analytics.

IoT applications are being encouraged. This is clear from the fact that a separate portion of the IT policy has been dedicated for promoting IoT. This has resulted in large private companies expressing interest in setting up IoT and incubation centres in the state. We are in talks with them to finalise their requirements.