People complain of net outages, long queues and inadequate space in Bangalore One centres which provide citizen services.
BangaloreOne centres, established 15 years ago for electronic delivery of citizen services such as bills payments and Aadhaar services, are not citizen-friendly. Bengalureans The Observer interviewed complained of problems such as frequent Internet server failures, lack of enough space to accommodate people, and long queues.
H.N. Pai, a retired senior citizen, said: “I have been using the services of the Kengeri B1 centre for a long time. The place is usually crowded on holidays and weekends. So people form a queue on the street. Sometimes the wait in the queue is up to half an hour during which people have to stand in scorching sun or rain.”
Shanmukhagowda, another resident of Kengeri, said: “Since this centre is close to my house, I come here regularly for bill payments. But for Aadhaar card services, I have to go to the BBMP office.”
Kengeri has a mini B1 centre with only two counters. It does not provide services other than bill payments. The Observer found that only one person can sit in the centre, forcing people to form a queue on the street. Since there is no parking space, people park on the street.
Srinivasamurthy is another citizen affected by poor service at the RR Nagar B1 centre. “It is a long queue for Aadhaar card services. Tokens are issued on a per-day basis. People have to arrive early in the morning to receive tokens. Sometimes the staff turn up late, and sometimes the Internet server is down. So we have to come another day for our work. All these cause waste of time and inconvenience.”
The RR Nagar centre has better seating facilities and infrastructure than the Kengeri centre. But The Observer found mothers with young babies standing for more than 20 minutes as the place was crowded.
Veena N, the person in charge of the Hegganahalli B1 centre, said: “We have ensured dual connections of BSNL and Airtel to ensure that people are not affected by server connectivity problems. There are also CCTV cameras and UPS facility to ensure that people services continue without disruption.”
A senior official from the directorate of electronic delivery of citizen services who did not want to be named said that the size of centres and the number of services offered depends on the population. “Some of these centres are run by franchisees; we do not have control over them. We do not have control over inconsistent Internet connectivity or queues building up. But we are constantly expanding the number of centres… and try to accommodate citizen interests as these centres accept payment through online wallets like Paytm.”
The Karnataka government website shows that B1 centres offer more than 200 government-to-citizen and business-to-citizen services. The ability of the centres to offer a wide array of services is compromised due to lack of resources, both human and infrastructure. The Observer found in several B1 centres placards announcing vacancies for data operators.
In June 2015, a Deccan Herald report spoke about inefficient delivery of services by B1 centres. Over time, services such as payment of property tax and issuance of birth and death certificates have been disabled.
Sreenivasa Rao, a volunteer of civic organization Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB) said: “Slowly, many centres are closing down and reducing their working hours. Initially, these centres functioned well, but have slowly lost their sheen as people do transactions online and don’t want to waste their time in queues.”
E-governance initiatives meant to help people are dying a slow death as there was no maintenance and follow-up mechanism after the centres were set up, Rao noted. Outsourcing work to private players can fix some of the problems.
BangaloreOne centres were launched in 2005 under Sevasindhu (e-district) project and implemented by the e-governance department of Karnataka. These centres were meant to pass on the benefits of e-governance to the people. Later, the government started KarnatakaOne centres in 2010 in nine other cities to replicate the e-governance model. All KarnatakaOne and B1 centres work on public-private partnership model. Though the vision is in line with national policy of ‘Minimum government, Maximum governance’, it is affected by challenges in implementation.