Sewa which in simple words means helping hand, and that’s what Sewa Kendras are meant to be in Punjab. The state having brought a revolutionary change in villages also became the first state in the country to provide all government to citizen services online.
This ambitious project of the Punjab government has been initiated by the Department of Governance Reforms which provide for 223 citizen-centric services to the residents at each of these centres. These include water and electricity bills, banking services, all kinds of certificates like birth and death certificates, and marriage certificates.
Interestingly these kendras also have facility of entertaining all kinds of taxes, like property tax, and licenses for rickshaws, carts and slaughter house to name a few. In addition NOC for fire safety, removal of garbage, request for spray and fogging besides penalty for stray cattle is also entertained.
These kendras have brought in transparency in the system and have given the citizens the power to enjoy all facilities at one place what has been termed as ‘citizen centric governance’.
Recently in Bathinda 123 sewa kendras have been constructed of which 34 centres are in urban areas, 89 in rural of which each Kendra will be catering to 3 to 5 villages.
Sewa Kendras are under the Common Service Centre (CSC) scheme of the Government of India which has been implemented under the national e-governance programme. This scheme has led to a rapid socio-economic change in rural and urban areas of the state.
The state government has under the plan 2174 kendras, which include 1750 in rural and 424 in urban areas. In addition to effectively implement the e-sewa kendras, there will be 1500 such kendras in villages and under different municipal corporations.
The Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal holds the e-governance portfolio as well and is initiating the project. All concerned authorities have been asked to come up with kiosks and also identify space for the new ones. Online service will not only save time of people but also help in reducing corruption.
The government last year also allowed Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. to set up its towers on these kendras. Further ICICI bank would also be opening counters in these kendras. With the coming up of banking counters, it will cater to the banking needs of people at the same centre where they will be paying their bills etc. thus giving them the convenience of just visiting one place rather that visiting several government offices in different locations.
With the entry of two private players in Sewa Kendras more are likely to be added, bringing out clear intention of the government that it does not want to dominate the services and is working in the interest of the general public. The state getting the distinction of being the first in introducing e-Sewa kendras is a feather in the cap of Punjab, which has through several other projects of public interest won the accolades of the central government, which has replicated similar projects in other parts of the country.