Rural welfare takes wheels

Nukkad nataks, road shows, on-the-spot quiz and games ' the rural masses in five districts of the state will now learn about grassroots governance right on their doorstep.

Aimed at creating awareness about the Union government's National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) and various services available at Pragya Kendras or common service centres, Jharkhand on Tuesday rolled out a publicity van that will tour Ranchi, Ramgarh, Bokaro, Giridih and Deoghar.

Chief secretary S.K. Choudhary flagged off the van around 2.30pm ' much beyond its scheduled 10.30am run because he was summoned to Raj Bhavan for a sudden meeting.

IT secretary N.N. Sinha and other senior officials of the department were present when the van, finally, rolled out in the afternoon.

Speaking on the occasion, Choudhary said e-governance had a potential role in development because it could connect people in the rural hinterland with the government.

"E-governance brings in transparency and accountability. However, it can only pluck its fruits of labour when the common man is in the know. The van will take our message to the masses," he added.

This e-governance awareness campaign in Jharkhand and elsewhere is being sponsored by the Centre.

Around 100,000 common service centres offer various welfare schemes across the country. Out of these, 3,000 in eight states ' Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, besides Jharkhand ' have been chosen for sensitisation in the first phase.

Jharkhand boasts around 4,350 common service centres, but barely half of them function on any given day.

Two dozen of these Pragya Kendras in Ranchi, Ramgarh, Bokaro, Giridih and Deoghar will be covered under the campaign on wheels over a span of 15 days from Tuesday.

An administrative official said the van was equipped with laptops and publicity material and would have a team of cultural workers on board.

"The team will perform plays and shows at various Pragya Kendras to sensitise people about various services like obtaining certificates of death, birth, domicile, caste and income, get MGNREGS payments, open bank accounts, et al," said an official.

The van will be stationed at each location for three hours. "We are targeting two panchayats a day," he added.

However, the biggest challenge for the state under President's Rule is to make all the Pragya Kendras functional. Currently, problems of connectivity and power come in the way of effective operation of these centres.

A majority of the centres in Santhal Pargana are yet to make a start because the selected agency, Delhi-based Zoom Developers, backed out last year. It is recently that the state has decided to award the job to another agency.