It’s never too late to be tech-savvy in the age of green governance. The Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, which turned paperless on Tuesday, has set a benchmark for other state Assemblies.
The first House in the country to implement e-Vidhan as a pilot project, the web-based and fully automated Vidhan Sabha will no longer require manual laying of papers. Everything will be done online and the decades-old system of providing written replies, reports, bills and copies of documents to MLAs will be a thing of the past.
From 80-year-old Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to seniormost cabinet minister Vidya Stokes, 87, and the House’s seniormost member Mansa Ram, everyone will use touch-screen devices at their tables in the Assembly.
Virbhadra, who initially showed reluctance to learn new technology at the fag end of his 50-year political career, was in for a surprise as he inaugurated the e-Vidhan system today. He got a large-font touch-screen device to suit his vision, and Speaker B B L Butail got a push-bottom table-top, specially designed for the leader of the House.
While seated, the CM can use his touchscreen to scroll through the replies of questions and get reports, but the moment he gets up to reply, his table will be lifted to a comfortable height at the press of a button.
“This is a wonderful experience. I am happy this has happened in Himachal Pradesh, before any state could adopt such a hi-tech system to go paperless. I compliment the Speaker for making the technology more useful for the MLAs,” he said.
The Rs 8.12 crore e-Vidhan project was sanctioned by the Union Ministry of IT last year, the golden jubilee of the Vidhan Sabha. Butail said, “I had given my word to then IT minister Kapil Sibal to successfully implement the project in less than a year. Now it’s time for others to follow the suit. We are willing to transfer the technology.”
As the three-week monsoon session begins on August 6, the MLAs will be required to use the individual touch-screens fitted atop their tables using a secret password. They will be able to view written replies on the screens, which will be uploaded by the Vidhan Sabha’s e-vidhan cell 20 minutes before the House assembles.
Other functions like introducing bills, laying reports and answers to questions in the House will be handled only through touch-screen-based computer systems. Other features include e-voting to exercise choice over bills and resolutions. Information for the media will also be provided online in the press gallery and a media room equipped with computers under e-Vidhan system. Bureaucrats and administrative secretaries assisting ministers during question hour will get hand-held devices for sending e-notes to ministers.
However, not all MLAs are enthused with the new technology. For their benefit, the Speaker has decided to provide papers during this session to give them time to get used to the technology.
– No papers in the House. All replies to questions, copies of bills and reports will be provided online
– MLAs will use touch-screen device at their tables. e-Vidhan project will atomize total process involved in working of legislative Assembly and its secretariat. This includes working of committees. Government departments will communicate with Vidhan sabha online for sending replies to approved questions, bills.
– Government will cut down expenditure by Rs 15 crore per annum incurred on use of paper and other overheads. Digital audio and video recordings facility available.