labels: nasscom, it features
From queues to clicksnews
T Radhakrishna
03 January 2003
Hyderabad: Many Indian states lack an efficient mechanism for collecting taxes and utility bills. Every department — electricity, water, telephone — has its own mechanism for the billing process, though the customers who pay these bills are usually the same.

Thus consumers have to spend hours in different queues for paying bills for different services. The process is time-consuming and tedious for both customers and the collecting agencies.

To bring all these services under one roof, the Andhra Pradesh state government has created a uniform network — Twin Cities Network Services (Twins). This project is now also ready to go on to the World Wide Web.

Under Twins, a chain of 19 integrated citizen service centres (ICSCs) has been set up. These centres act as one-stop shops for the payment of bills for 19 services, including electricity, water and sewerage bills, and property taxes.

The project has immense potential as Hyderabad alone has 15 lakh domestic consumers and 5 lakh commercial consumers who pay their electricity bills bimonthly. An equal number of consumers pay their bills for other civic services. The government also allows these centres to accept payments for private services like cellphones, mutual funds, shares and bus reservations.

“We are happy with the results of the project and are planning to introduce an online payment facility soon,” says K Madhusudhan Rao, ex-director of Twins. Once the payment system is in place, consumers will be able to make online payments by logging on to www.esevaonline.com.

According to Rao, the ICSC in Hyderabad, which commenced in December 1999, now registers 12,000 transactions a month. It is growing day by day.

Conceptualised five years ago, the project is a build-own-operate-transfer (Boot) venture with Ram Informatics of Hyderabad and CMS of Mumbai. The two companies get a commission on each transaction for providing hardware, software, networking and maintenance support for the ICSCs.

The services of various departments are integrated using web-server technology. Jagadeeshwar Rao, project manager of Ram Informatics, says the web-server acts as a bridge between the database of the departments located in six departments in different parts of the twin cities and the consumers who come to the ICSCs.

The three-tier web-server technology has two web-application servers and uses Windows NT network with 24 nodes. A combination of ISDN lines and asynchronous lines has been established to connect the web server at ICSCs with the servers of the departments. The project has improved the efficiency levels and consistency of the six departments, says Madhusudhan Rao.

The IT department has already roped in ICICI, Unit Trust of India, and HDFC for an e-payment gateway. Encouraged by the initial response, the government is planning to extend the project to cover the entire state. The government’s vision is to cover all 25 districts of the state in the near future.

If all goes well, consumers can pay their utility bills anywhere, anytime — making e-governance a reality throughout the state.

 

 


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