Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Mar 6:
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik never tires of claiming that his government has made Odisha an IT hub and is actually a pioneer of sorts when it comes to e-governance projects. But a closer look at how these projects are doing proves beyond doubt that a lot of these claims are actually nothing more than hot air.
In each department, one finds a plethora of IT projects at various stages of conceptualisation, implementation, deployment and up-gradation to latest technology. But if government websites are any indication, it is a sad state of affairs out there.
The websites of various departments including Transport, Health, Industry, Women and Child Development, Steel and Mines and a host of other state government websites have not been updated for months. The information available on the Citizens’ Services website is mostly outdated and thus inaccurate.
While browsing the Odisha Police website the other day, for instance, one found Jaswant Jethua still continuing as the Western Range IG months after he took over as South-western Range IG and was replaced by RK Sharma in the Western Region!
Besides, the e-Despatch system adopted by the government to provide information to the general public and smooth despatch of letters to other departments simply does not function as promised because the government is apparently losing sleep over too much transparency.
Most departments are avoiding posting letters and online notices through the e-despatch system fearing it may boomerang on them because it involves sharing of vital information with the public. Some departments have even stopped posting letters on the government website altogether.
Several departments including law, parliamentary affairs, pension, grievances and public administration, science and technology, sports and youth services and tourism and culture have not even introduced the e-despatch system!
All the departments including Water Resources and Home Affairs held by chief minister do not disclose the letters probably fearing that the white clad clean image may receive get smeared in the process.
“Earlier, we were updating the website, but now we are being asked not to post letters in the website to prevent any embarrassment to the government,” conceded a government official.
To bring transparency in the administration and minimise file work, the state government introduced the e-despatch system two years ago.
“In fact, there is an absolute lack of discipline in this matter. Every government department has a nodal officer who is supposed to update the site regularly. A typical babu mentality prevails among the managers concerned of these websites. The websites need to be updated for the information of people,” said a former principal secretary, who does not want to be named.
RTI activists lash out at the attitude of the government which is guarding information as if they were bombs.
“While the government claims that it has adopted transparency in every matter, why is it hiding the letters? Besides, why is it not updating information on various government websites and providing wrong information?” asked Jayant Das, a RTI activist.