- Being at the interface of rural citizens and governance structure, the panchayats are an effective vehicle to induce mass ICT culture at the local level.
- The e-Panchayat is one of the Mission Mode Projects (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), to completely transform the functioning of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRls)- making them more transparent, accountable, and effective as organs of decentralised self-governing institutions.
About National e-Governance Plan (NeGP)
- The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) which started on 18 May 2006, takes a holistic view of e-Governance initiatives across the country, integrating them into a collective vision, a shared cause.
- Around this idea, a massive countrywide infrastructure reaching down to the remotest of villages is evolving, and large-scale digitization of records is taking place to enable easy, reliable access over the internet.
- The ultimate objective is to bring public services closer home to citizens, as articulated in the Vision Statement of NeGP.
- The e-Panchayat(started in 2018) is one of the Mission Mode Projects (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), to completely transform the functioning of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRls)- making them more transparent, accountable, and effective as organs of decentralised self-governing institutions.
- The project aims to automate internal workflow processes of more than 2.5 lakh panchayats across the country, benefitting approximately 30 lakh elected members and about 10 lakh PRI functionaries.
- It is meant to improve local governance and make the working of democracy effective at the grassroots level.
e-Gram Swaraj (e-Financial Management System)
- In order to strengthen e-Governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), eGramSwaraj, a Simplified Work-Based Accounting Application for Panchayati Raj, was launched on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day on April 24, 2020.
- It has been developed amalgamating the functionalities of all the applications under the e-panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP).
- eGS is a Simplified Work-Based Accounting Software for PRIs, providing a single platform for all planning and accounting needs including various other aspects of Panchayat functioning (monitoring, asset management).
- This application is developed with an aim for tracking every expenditure incurred for each of the activities proposed under the Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs).
- eGS reduces the number of data entries that Gram Panchayat users perform and eventually eases the complexities involved in e-Governance Applications.
- It also brings in a more user-friendly interface with ease of navigation that makes it hassle-free for the GPS to track, monitor, and modify their Action Plan.
- The application brings in transparency, accountability, and real-time monitoring of the GPDP.
Geo-tagging of assets
- As a part of effective planning and monitoring, it is also imperative to have field-level monitoring and monitoring of the physical progress of works.
- Further, supplementing to strengthening the system; geo-tagging of assets (on completion of work) is of utmost importance.
- MoPR has developed mActionSoft- a mobile-based solution to help in capturing photos with Geo- Tags (i.e, GPS Coordinates) for the works which have the asset as an output.
- The Ministry aims to elevate the eGramSwaraj portal as a comprehensive platform that could not only bring transparency, but it could also bring ease in financial planning and utilisation at the Gram Panchayat level.
Gram Manchitra (Geo-spatial planning application)
- Gram Manchitra was launched in October 2019, as a spatial planning application for facilitating and supporting GPs to perform planning at the GP level with the use of Geo-spatial technology.
- The application is being integrated with spatial and non-spatial data from various ministries and stakeholders.
- Further strengthening financial management and transparency of Panchayats, Audit Online was launched on 15 April 2020, subsequent to the recommendation of the Fifteenth Finance Commission.
- Central Finance Commissions time and again have emphasised ensuring the availability of audited accounts in the public domain.
- Audit Online not only facilitates the auditing of accounts but also provisions for maintaining audit records that have been carried out.
- This application also seeks to streamline the process for audit inquiries, draft local audit reports, draft audit Paras etc.
Since Gram Panchayats are mandated to plan and execute activities relating to twenty-nine focus areas and also in the post-Covid-19 era, the utility of having robust governance systems have been highlighted and the role of data collection and management has been widely recognised. The Gram Panchayats are uniquely positioned to collect reliable data at the grassroots level and thus, it is essential to digitize every system of Gram Panchayats to its fullest capacity.