Monday, Oct 06, 2003
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By T. Nandakumar
The mapping programme, which involves the creation of a computerised database of all the buildings and residents in the city, was thrown out of schedule following a series of setbacks to the e-governance project.
The project includes a detailed ward-level survey to assess and categorise houses. It is aimed at bringing all the buildings within the city into the tax net and ensuring easy verification of records for various welfare schemes. It will also help streamline the tax assessment system.
The Government had entrusted the Information Kerala Mission (IKM) with the premises mapping of all the urban local bodies in the State as a prelude to the new tax structure that is expected to be in place by March next year.
IKM officials had conducted several meetings with Corporation authorities to finalise the strategy for the survey, which involves a massive house-to-house data collection exercise. Plans were being drawn up to enlist Kudumbasree volunteers and polytechnic students in the effort.
Moves were on to set up ward-level teams for the survey when the computerisation project ran into a series of roadblocks. Already seven months behind schedule, the Rs.1.3-crore project hit a major hurdle after the District Planning Committee (DPC) called for a review following allegations of corruption in the purchase of hardware.
Following several rounds of discussions, the Local Administration Department issued a conditional approval insisting on a performance audit. The subsequent Government Order cleared the purchase but it recommended another tender to take advantage of the significant fall in computer prices.
In a bid to get the project off the ground, the technical committee is understood to have recommended rate contract purchase of equipment. But LDF leaders in the council are reportedly in favour of inviting fresh tenders for purchase. They fear that the rate contract route would provide an opportunity for the Opposition to level fresh corruption charges.
LDF leaders alleged that the Government was scuttling the e-governance project to clear the way for outsourcing computerisation of local bodies in the State.
Corporation sources said the ward survey for digital mapping could be taken up only after the computerisation project was launched.
The e-governance project envisages a network linking the Corporation headquarters with the zonal offices situated in the new wards annexed to the city from five suburban panchayats. Two major city hospitals that register the largest number of births were also scheduled to be included in the network in the first phase.
The initial phase involves computerisation of the Health and Revenue Departments. The Town Planning, Engineering and General sections will be computerised later.
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