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More allocation for e-governance projects

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, FEB. 28 . The Union budget has placed greater emphasis on taking information technology to the masses as is evident from the higher outlays for the National Informatics Centre, electronics governance, community information centres and for the revival of the Media Lab Asia project.

The budget also has stepped up the allocation for IT projects aimed specifically at the North-East region.

The biggest increase is for the e-governance projects with the Government planning to increasingly deploy information and communication technologies to streamline its internal functioning and improve its interface with citizens and businesses. The goal is to reach beyond the current efforts to "reinvent the government" by identifying strategies, improve service delivery, reduce costs and streamline administrative procedures. The basic objective behind spending Rs. 266 crores for the purpose is to provide basic minimal infrastructure throughout the country for connectivity and access at affordable cost.

A similar emphasis is seen in the case of community information centres (CICs) with the outlay being increased by six times to Rs. 30 crores. The CICs would provide e-mail, Internet access, and citizen centric services through the portal cic.nic.in and web-based services such as information on agro products, hospital bookings and board examinations.

The backbone for both these initiatives, the NIC will also get higher funding, estimated at a little less than 20 per cent. The budget marks the revival of the Media Lab Asia project that was mired in controversy during the tenure of the previous government.

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