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Aksh Optifibre to open 10,000 e-governance kiosks across Rajasthan by 2016

IPTV and VoIP services and optical fibre manufacturing company, Aksh Optifibre has announced that it will open over 10,000 e-e MitraAkshgovernance kiosks across rural and urban Rajasthan by 2016, as part of the next phase of Government of Rajasthan’s (GoR) e-Mitra project.

GoR’s Department of IT & Communication commissioned this project, with the aim of providing citizens with various government and private services through one-stop kiosks, which are branded as 1 Stop Aksh. Apparently, 110 services are made available to citizens though this programme, currently. Here’s a list of all services (pdf), currently, offered under the e-Mitra programme and charges for each.

Partnership with local residents

The new set of e-kiosks will be operated by Aksh in partnership with individual kiosk holders, who will be selected from among local residents. These kiosk holders will administer the services on behalf of Aksh, while the company will continue operating the existing set of e-kiosks. The company said that it will setup, train and deploy each new e-kiosk. This will, apparently, be preceded by a strict verification process of potential kiosk holders, including a physical verification to ensure strict compliance across all of its kiosks.

At present, Aksh works as the local service provider in Jaipur, Bharatpur, Dholpur, Jhunjhnu and Sikar. They have over 700 e-kiosks spread across these locations and provide services like, online payment of utility bills, passport application form submissions, issuing character verification certificates, issuing Aadhaar cards, Bhamashah IDs and banking services, among others. The company claims that it generated cumulative revenue of over Rs 2300 crore from these kiosks.

Evolution of e-Mitra

The GoR had launched two pilot programmes – Lokmitra (Urban) Kiosks and Jan Mitra (Rural) Kiosks. Initially, there were 25 e-kiosks across the state and offered 4 services. These programmes were later merged into one in 2005, and rolled out as the e-Mitra project. This project is being implemented in 33 districts across Rajasthan through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). Aksh Optifibre is one of the partners.

Karnataka Govt. & OnMobile m-governance pilot

Last year, Karnataka Government had launched an m-governance pilot project, in partnership with OnMobile, which provided citizens access to various government services on their mobile phones. Both information services and services involving transactions were part of this initiative.

Some of the services offered were Sakala services, electricity, water, and BSNL landline and mobile bill payments, bus routes and timing information, traffic alerts service and pending traffic fine payments.

Other developments

-Back in August 2008, SREI Infrastructure Finance mentioned in its earnings release that its subsidiary SREI Sahaj e-village would be setting up 24,780 Common Service Centres (broadband-enabled kiosks) across 6 states – West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. Later in February 2009, Sahaj announced an investment of Rs 1000 crore for this e-governance project.

-In November 2009, Sahaj e-village revealed in its newsletter that the incorporation of the government’s NREGA scheme with the e-governance project wasn’t progressing as planned due to lack of funds.

-BSNL had also set up e-kiosks, starting with one at Savlaj village in Sangli, Maharashtra, under the e-governance scheme ‘Wire-Line Broadband Connectivity to Rural and Remote Areas’.

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