Minister of Panchayati Raj, V. Kishore Chandra Deo had announced last week that no funds have been released so far to States and Union Territories for the implementation of e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP) around the country, including for the procurement of hardware. It appears that the government has asked the states and union territories to utilize available funds from other sources such as 13th Central Finance Commission grants, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF), State funds, etc. for procuring the required infrastructure including computers for the Panchayats.

However, no information is available on how the states are supposed to compensate for the funds taken from the other schemes like the MGNREGS. Also, stating the difference in levels of infrastructure and preparedness of the states for this project, the government has not fixed any time frame for the completion of the computerization of all the panchayats in the country during the twelfth five year plan.We feel that the lack of time line for such a project is likely to further slow down the computerisation rather than give enough time to the states for its implementation. Similar to the Time Bound Services Bill recently approved by the Cabinet, it would be useful to also pass a law that would require government departments to put a time line for its own internal working as well.

It is worth noting that in a release dated February 22, 2013, Deo had given details of the amount of funds that had been released for the adoption of the Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES) along with the training and setting up of Programme Management Units. Isn’t it illogical to be disbursing funds for adoption of PES when there are no funds to buy computers to use these enterprise applications.

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Mission Mode Project

Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) was supposed to computerise all the three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions in the country. This process began two years ago. With the computerisation of the panchayats, the government intends to address all the functions of Panchayats from planning, monitoring, implementation to budgeting, accounting and social audit. Among the applications required to be implemented, four of them including PRIASoft, PlanPlus, National Panchayat Portal and Local Governance Directory have been in use in a few States for the last two years. Further, six more applications namely Area Profiler, ServicePlus, Asset Directory, ActionSoft, Social Audit and Trainings Management were launched on 24th April, 2012. However, training is still being imparted for the use of the six new applications.

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Implementations so far

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj claims to have disbursed Rs. 38.5 crores for setting up of Programme Managment Units in the states to provide technical support and training for the e-Panchayat MMP in 2011-12, alone. The government also claims that so far, over 47,000 Panchayats put their approved Annual Action Plans online for 2011-12 and over 29000 officials have been trained in all applications and about 8,600 functionaries and elected members are ICT literate. We are looking to procure more data on this project. Anybody with more information on this project can write to us at brindaa@medianama.com