By launching Village Secretariats, Andhra shifts away from e-governance path2 min read . Updated: 02 Oct 2019, 05:42 PM IST
- The idea behind them is to ensure that govt's services reach people on the ground and also to strengthen the existing Panchayat Raj system
- A TDP leader accuses the new system of having 'political overtones' to create a vote bank for the YSRCP govt
Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government on Wednesday launched its Village Secretariat programme, under which 1.26 lakh new government employees will begin working. While the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) has maintained that this will make government services more accessible, the system, however, is in complete contrast to the earlier trajectory of the state, which had been pushing for e-governance or online services instead under former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
Under the new system, the AP government, led by Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, one Village Secretariat has been set up for every population of 2,000, with each one comprising close to a dozen village officials (from different departments like police, revenue, etc). The idea behind it, according to the state government, is to ensure that its services reach people on the ground, and also to strengthen the existing Panchayat Raj system.
The cost of hiring about 1.26 lakh new employees is going to be roughly about ₹2,200 crore a year for the AP government. Aside from this, the state has also hired another two lakh Village Volunteers, with each of them being paid ₹5,000 per month, with the job of assisting people in availing government services (each volunteer to look after 50 households).
“The expenditure incurred over the Village Secretariat is not much, if you look at the subsidies offered to industries by the previous government. One industry (company) would generate 100 or 200 jobs at best," said a state government official who did not want to be quoted. A statement from the AP government also said that the previous TDP government had promised jobs, but failed to live up to its promise.
This new system is in contrary to what Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo Naidu had brought about. In July last year, he launched the e-Pragati platform, bringing many of the state government’s services online, in partnership with EY Consultancy.
The e-Pragati programme enabled citizens to avail over 745 services from 34 departments and 336 autonomous organizations of the AP government online. Prior to that in 2017, Naidu also started the Real Time Government Service at the state secretariat in Velugapudi at Amaravati. It was launched with the Real Time Governance Society as its functional arm, which directly reported to the then chief minister.
In fact, one of the missions of the RTGS was to also leverage e-governance, technology and electronic communication and adopt an advanced technology of international standards for governance. The idea was to create an evolved ecosystem of technology and skill, and data of all the households in the state along with the government benefits they receive were linked with various government departments.
A TDP leader from AP, who was also a functionary in the previous government under Naidu, said that Jagan Mohan Reddy has stopped other services of the state to divert money for the Village Secretariat scheme. “The YSRCP government has stopped Anna canteens (subsidized meals) across the state, and even the unemployment allowance for educated youth we started has been stopped," he alleged.
The TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted, added that the Village Secretariat also “clearly has political undertones" to create a new vote bank for Jagan Mohan Reddy.