July 5, 2014
Sahaj Tathya Mitra Kendras in the rural Bengal pave way for smooth online public service
Sahaj Tathya Mitra Kendra in the state, in collaboration with private partners and Govt. of West Bengal has been promoting the e-governance initiatives in the state for the past three years. From helping the rural population by making them self sufficient in paying electric bills, downloading mark sheets, application forms or file e-tenders, this centers have done wonders in recent times.
Run under the supervision of the West Bengal State Rural Development Agency (WBSRDA) under Panachayats & Rural Development Department, Government of West Bengal, the Tathya Mitra Kendras of the state in 6,000 locations across Bengal have been now empowered to help passport-seekers file applications online for a nominal fee so that nobody has to depend on a tout. The service, introduced this week, is for the benefit of those who don`t have Internet access or find the system of filing applications online and seeking an appointment cumbersome. The fee for the service is Rs 100, a fraction of what touts demand.
Tathya Mitra Kendras are government-aided centres set up under the public-private partnership model by rural entrepreneurs to provide basic information technology-related services to villagers. Bengal has 6,339 Tathya Mitra Kendras, some located in the block offices, others at the gram panchayat headquarters and a few elsewhere. Each such centre is manned by at least one village-level entrepreneur with basic infrastructure comprising at least one computer and a printer.
A Tathya Mitra Kendra helps a customer download and fill in education and employment-related forms, apply for a government scholarship, file an online application for an electricity connection, apply for SC/ST certificates and search land records, among other things.
Personnel manning the Tathya Mitra Kendras have had to undergo training to be eligible for the new service. The decision to use Tathya Mitra Kendras as an interface is the first attempt to uproot the tout system.