Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday virtually launched 56 services newly added to the Sewa Kendras, slamming the previous SAD-BJP government for transforming this unique initiative he had launched in his previous term into loss-making white elephants with their inefficiency and ineptness.
Underlining the importance of changing the way of working in the new digitalised era, to make it more transparency and efficient, Captain Amarinder said his government was committed to bring in greater transparency and efficacy in governance by taking the total number of citizen-centric services available at these Kendras to 500 in the next 3 months. With today’s launch, the number of services at the Sewa Kendras now stands at 327, with a daily footfall of 60000.
The Chief Minister directed Chief Secretary Vinni Mahajan to ensure that more services are included in the portfolio of these Kendras in a time-bound manner, with a call centre all set to be launched next month to enable citizens to lodge their grievances with total ease. He also directed the Governance Reforms department to tie up with the Department of Posts to immediately begin home delivery of documents as in the case of passports.
Blaming the Akalis for the unviable, poorly managed and underutilized Sewa Kendras, resulting in a huge drain on the state exchequer, Captain Amarinder said that as many as 2144 Sewa Kendras were running with minimal footfall and poor delivery of services, while only 170 government services were available in these Kendras under the previous regime. Besides, a sum of Rs. 400 crore was recklessly spent on constructing these white elephants, which cost Rs.250 crore annually to the state government to run these centres.
His government, on coming to power in 2017, decided at its very first cabinet meet to establish Unified Service Delivery Centres for online delivery of services, the Chief Minister recalled. Apart from this, a conscientious decision was taken for amalgamation of all the existing centres such as Suvidha Centres, Saanjh Kendras, Fard Kendras, etc. with complete backend computerization and digitization to ensure public delivery system in a seamless manner.
The rationalization led to reduction in the number of Sewa Kendras from 2147 to 516, and subsequent fresh tendering transformed the project into a self-sustaining revenue sharing contract model, with no burden on the state exchequer, he added.
Noting that the State Government started earning Rs. 6 crore annually from these Sewa Kendras rather than paying for its running, the Chief Minister said consequently the number of services was increased to 327 from 170 being provided during the tenure of SAD-BJP government. Thus, the present Congress Government reversed a huge annual loss of Rs. 250 crore imposed on the State Exchequer by the previous SAD-BJP government, he noted.
As the Sewa Kendras gear up to further expand their ambit to cover a total of 500 services in the next 3 months, the Chief Minister said the single-window delivery of services had brought in a new level of transparency and efficiency into governance, enabling the people of Punjab to avail all services under one roof.
He directed the department to expedite delivery of Smart Ration Cards and Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana through the Kendras.
The 56 new services added to the Sewa Kendras today include 37 that were earlier provided by Police department through Saanjh Kendras, 18 which were so far under the purview of the Transport department through their offices, and one (mutation service) that the Revenue department had been delivering through Fard Kendras in the state.
Transport Minister Razia Sultan shared details of some of the services added to the Sewa Kendras today, including issuance of RC and driving licence appointment booking, NOC for inter-state transfer of vehicles, change of address, among others. Revenue Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar also announced details of various new services.
DGP Dinkar Gupta revealed that 21 Police related services, such as Passport Verifications, Arms License verifications, Registration of Foreigners, Issue of NoCs, Copy of Untraced Reports etc., which were earlier being provided from 294 Saanjh Kendras would now be provided from 516 Sewa Kendras located all over the State. As a result, police personnel earlier deployed for delivery of such services from Saanjh Kendras would be released for various policing duties once the migration of such services from Saanjh Kendras to Sewa Kendras is completed by 1st April, 2021, he added.
Chief Secretary Vinni Mahajan disclosed that the Chief Minister himself was regularly monitoring the process of inclusion of new services into the system, in a time-bound manner. The Sewa Kendras, being run in PPP mode, are benefitting 7 lakh people every month at the moment, and the number would now go up with the launch of 56 new services through the centres, she added.
Additional Chief Secretary Governance Reforms Anirudh Tiwari said that 516 Sewa Kendras are currently operational in the urban and rural areas of the state with a daily footfall of 60,000 and providing employment to more than 5000 youth. These centres offer 327 government services, besides providing miscellaneous non-State Government services like Photostat, Courier, Direct Money Transfer, Fastag, PAN card, Ticketing (Bus & Train) etc.
On the occasion, some of the customers of the Sewa Kendras shared their experience of the ease with which they had successfully availed services relating to birth certificates, domicile certificates, learner’s driving license, among others. Sarpanches of some villages also spoke of the difference the Kendras had made to the lives of the people.