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E-gram services for Punjab villages
The e-Gram project of the Punjab government, which aims at monitoring expenditure in panchayats and providing 14 crucial citizen services to all 12,800 villages in Punjab, will be operational by December of this year.

Punjab has launched a Rs 91 crore programme to set up e-gram centres in nearly 3000 of its panchayat clusters to provide important citizen services in rural areas, officials said here today.

The decision to this effect was taken by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today at a meeting with senior administrative officials, an official spokesman said.

He said that eight states in the country, including neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, have already set up e-gram centres at village level and highlighted the need "to peculate the benefits of administrative reforms and IT revolution to each and every villages of Punjab".

The centres in 3,017 panchayat clusters, besides monitoring expenditure in panchayats, will provide 14 crucial citizen services to all the 12,800 villages in Punjab.

"These services, including issuance of birth and death certificates, domicile certificate, collection of power, water bills, telephone bills, booking of tubewell, will be provided under one roof in the most transparent manner," Badal said.

The Punjab government on an average was releasing Rs 500 to 700 crore to panchayats for executing various development programmes but due to archaic accounting system, lack of monitoring mechanism, modern audit system and accountability, most of the development money was not being spent on the projects for which it was initially released.

He said that e-grams have been provided with a special software that would keep a strict check on budget for each village and can be monitored on-line at the headquarters.

Besides maintaining records of each family in the village, these centres will monitor the execution of various development programmes.

They will also maintain proper record of assets, income sources and employees on panchayat pay roll.

In the first phase, e-gram centres will be set up in 397 places in block level and be extended to village level by March 2011 when all 3,017 e-gram clusters will be operational.

Each cluster will cover four to six villages and distance of a centre will not be more than 4 km away from a village.

Source: Press Trust of India