New e-connect network ends in Buddha disconnect

The state IT department’s claim to connect all the 341 blocks of the state with a computer network as part of Centre’s National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) began with a bang but ended in a whimper.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published:February 28, 2009 2:41 am

IT minister said his officials were nervous before CM

The state IT department’s claim to connect all the 341 blocks of the state with a computer network as part of Centre’s National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) began with a bang but ended in a whimper.

On Friday,PR managers of the state government announced that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee would inaugurate the completion of the third phase of West Bengal Statewide Area Network (WBSWAN) in which all the districts,sub-divisions and blocks will be connected with the Writers’ Buildings.

Present on the occasion were minister for IT Debesh Das and other senior officials of the state government.

But to the utter chagrin and dismay of the chief minister,for a long 45 minutes the officers and other panchayat heads at the sub-divisional and block level remained almost incommunicado as they could not be connected with the chief minister.

Neither the chief minister nor those at the block level could hear each other properly as connections were getting snapped often. At the end an exasperated Bhattacharjee got up and told the IT officials. “It seems you have no control over your system. I wanted Gosaba and you gave me Patharpratima. I did not want Bankura but you gave me Chhatna (in Bankura district). I wanted Burdwan but you could not give it to me for the last 30 minutes. I don’t know what is happening,” Bhattacharjee said and then left in a huff.

However,he tried to put up a brave front when members of the media asked him about the shoddy connectivity that was launched with much fanfare. “These are teething problems. They will be sorted out soon,” Bhattacharjee said.

Das defended his officials by saying that they had become nervous because of the presence of the chief minister. “Had the chief minister not been there they could have done it with élan,” Das said.

Earlier,Bhattacharjee said West Bengal is among the front-runners which have established such networking infrastructure in the country.

“In the age of competitiveness,fast and efficient communication at different levels plays a major role. With the project expanding its reach to the block office level,the coordination between the state headquarters and the block level offices is going to be more efficient,” Bhattacharjee said.

The network will help the administration to keep in touch with remote block offices through video conferencing and closed user group VoIP telephones. The initiative will play a major role in cutting down government’s expenditure on tours and travels by the officers for holding meetings. The government plans to extend the facility to all gram panchayats throughout the state in due course,said officials of the commerce and industries department.

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