Delayed, then scrapped: Kochi corporation blames TCS for e-governance failure

Of the 14 online services the Kochi Corporation had initially planned, only four were implemented, that too, after a three-year delay.
Delayed, then scrapped: Kochi corporation blames TCS for e-governance failure
Delayed, then scrapped: Kochi corporation blames TCS for e-governance failure
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The Kochi Corporation is the largest municipal corporation in Kerala, yet it does not have a proper electronic governance or e-governance mechanism for the residents in the city. Out of the 14 online services it had initially planned, the Corporation started four services in February 2018: Online application for birth, death and marriage certificates as well as e-trade services. These services, however, have been discontinued now. 

The opposition members of the Corporation have come down heavily on the Kochi Mayor and ruling members about the state of affairs. On Monday, opposition members of the Corporation walked out during the council meeting, protesting against the local body’s apathy in implementing the e-governance project.

How the project suffered setbacks

The e-governance project was initiated in 2011 at a total cost of about Rs 9 crore. The city corporation had given the contract for starting the e-governance project to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). 

As per the agreement, the project was to be completed by 2015. Since it was not implemented by then, the agreement was extended to 2017 and then again, to 2018.

According to officials of the city corporation, TCS failed to complete the work in time and hence the existing services had to be discontinued. 

“We paid TCS Rs 4 crore after they implemented the four services. Since they have not completed the full project yet, the Corporation decided not to make further payment. We understand this decision made TCS unhappy, and probably because of this, they have withdrawn the existing services,” Shiny Mathew, Town Planning Standing Committee Chairperson, told TNM.

When TNM reached out to TCS, the person concerned said, "TCS does not comment on client-specific matters."  

The absence of an IT officer at the Corporation is another reason, Shiny alleges, which led to the delay in implementation of the project. “Only an IT expert can coordinate on behalf of the Corporation with the TCS for implementing the project. We have already requested the government to hire such an expert,” she said.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader of the Corporation, KJ Antony, criticised the delay. “The previous council of the Corporation, headed by then Mayor Tony Chamminy, had initiated this project. The current Mayor, Soumini Jain, was then the chairperson of the Standing Committee. She could have realised the need for an IT expert then, as she was a person well aware of the developments of the e-governance project,” said Antony.

“Many panchayats across the state have implemented e-governance services. Why is it then that a high profile local body like Kochi Corporation cannot do it efficiently? It is clearly because of the apathy of officials in the Corporation,” he alleged. 

The Corporation officials have decided to hold talks with the representatives of TCS to resume the existing services soon. “After paying an amount of Rs 4 crore, we cannot back out from the agreement with them, though we accept the fact that there was a major delay. So, we will try to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” said Shiny Mathew.

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