The Telangana government has opened 'Digital Telangana Centres' managed by women in 100 panchayats across the state and plans to open such Centres in 1,000 others by January, an initiative in which several banks and insurance firms have evinced interest.
"The 'Digital Telangana Centres' or 'e-Panchayats' programme of the state government, which offers e-governance facilities to villagers, was launched on October 2 in Nalgonda district and it currently runs at 100 panchayats. We plan to scale it up to 1,100 by January," Telangana Information Technology (IT) Secretary Jayesh Ranjan told PTI.
The uniqueness of these Centres is that it will be managed by women, who are trained in using computers and software to operate the e-Panchayat programme. "Each Centre will have PCs, laptops, printers, scanners and large-size LED TVs. We are spending Rs 2.5 lakh for each Centre," he said.
"We have 8,750 gram panchayats (GPs) in Telangana. Our goal is to start one 'Digital Telangana Centre' in each panchayat. Each Centre will be managed by a local woman, who will be called the Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE), which is something unique," Ranjan said.
"We have already trained 100 women and they have been working at 100 Centres since last month. We are assessing their performance and we will start imparting training to another 1,000 women in the next one-to-two months, who will manage the new Centres at 1,000 panchayats, proposed to be launched by January," he said.
Each e-Panchayat will have these 'Digital Telangana Centres' where all kinds of facilities/services will be made available digitally i.e. electronically at the doorsteps of rural people, he said. Citizen services, government services, payments of social welfare pensions and wages for rural employment, will be made available through these Centres, which will also be converted into banking and insurance centres, he said.
"Many banks which have branches in our state have agreed to convert these Centres also as their rural branches which will facilitate the account holders in the villages, who can get their banking work done at these Centres. Banks like State Bank of Hyderabad, Andhra Bank, Telangana Gramin Bank have already extended their services at the 100 Centres," he said.
Similarly, insurance companies are also coming forward to convert these Centres into insurance centres. "The first proposal has come from insurance firm Future Generali to link their insurance services," Ranjan said. The IT Secretary further said that the government also has plans to expand the scope of services offered by these Centres to include training for farmers and coaching for students.
The state government runs a television channel,'Mana TV', and this TV service will be beamed in these Centres through LED TVs. At fixed slots, training programmes will be relayed for farmers. Coaching programmes on various exam subjects for students who are appearing for the Public Service Commission exams will also be shown, he said.
He said, "Our IT department officials in the districts will impart one-week training to the selected women, who are educated women from the villages. Like that, we would complete the entire 8,750 GPs in a phased manner over the next two-to-three years."
"So, 8,750 women will be managing these 'Digital Telangana Centres'. They will become entrepreneurs. They will not only be providing a very valuable community service, but they will also be improving their sources of livelihood through user fees and other revenue streams," he added.
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