Tamil bi-weekly Junior Vikatan has an encouraging article on the e-Government initiative at the Panruti municipality in its Jan 08, 2006 issue.Panruti municipality (Region: Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu, India; Area: 18.03 sq km; Population: 55,407) is e-services enabled in a way that is prompting the subeditor to compare it to “the American range” in the article title. ALL government paperwork and documentation have been digitized. This enables the municipality to provide prompt and transparent service to the people. Some of the innovative e-enablement mentioned in the article:
- Biometric (fingerprint!) employee attendance and punch carded vehicle movements.
- Paperless (or as the article reminds us, dusty files less ;-)) office where all records and services are computerized.
- High-tech information kiosks and low-tech chalk boards are used in combination to create a transparency that is empowering the public. You can browse the high-tech kiosk to find the latest tax bill or you can find on the chalk board what the municipality is paying for telephones.
After all that, here comes the best of it all:
- The municipality uses cell phone short messaging system (SMS) for service delivery. Send a text message to the municipality with your tax number. Back comes the reply message with the latest information on the tax bill, payment information, etc. SMS services are provided by an Aircel-donated automated messaging server. Pretty cool.
I am not sure what else they use the SMS gateway for since the article mentions only one. It would be interesting to find out if any transaction or other types of services have been enabled via SMS. Can a user send a text message to request the municipality to remove garbage?Imagine that – a municipality in Tamil Nadu (see the area and population above) – using cell phone text messaging to provide e-government services. Related links and ancillary info:
- Total cost: Rs. 7 lakhs. Project supporters: Tamil Nadu state government and EID Parry (local sugar mill).
- E-governance comes to Panruti, The New Indian Express: Oct 19, 2004 http://www.elcot.com/archives/itnews/2004/oct04/nie191004-1.htm
- High Tech Panruti, Junior Vikatan: Jan 08, 2006 http://www.vikatan.com/jv/2006/jan/08012006/jv0602.asp
- Panruti Municipality statistics: http://www.cuddalore.tn.nic.in/panmpl.htm