Akshaya has rolled out many e-services through the e-centres. The e-centres act as decentralized information hubs and service delivery points offering various services. E-payment platform covers utility bills like KSEB, KWA, BSNL, University fees etc. E-Filing of tax returns by traders of Kerala for Sales Tax Department has also been introduced recently. Booking the Indian Railway ticket through Akshaya centre is another feature. Basic approach is to bring all collections dispersed among a large number of people to a common platform of Akshaya e-Payment (e-Pay) facility. The system bas been constantly strengthened by adding more and more services.
e-Pay is an online system for collecting various utility bills from the citizens. It was introduced at 98 Akshaya centres in Malappuram district in August 2004 and was extended to seven more districts in the beginning of 2008. Now there are 705 Akshaya centres across Kerala which provide e-pay facility. The project will be implemented in six other districts of the State within two months. Payments and bills due to KSEB, BSNL and Kerala Water Authority have been accepted at the e-pay centres. The centres in Malappuram district collect fees to be remitted at the Calicut University counters too. The services of more departments such as Commercial Tax Department and Welfare Department are expected to be included in the e-pay platform soon. Akshaya e-centres all over Kerala (which amount to about 2070) will be e–pay enabled shortly, thus ensuring at least two e-pay centres in a grama panchayat in the future.
The main services of the e-pay counters are:
- It provides facility for online updating of backend data
- Cash transfer through secure SBI bank bone
- Online payment facility with credit/debit cards will be introduced soon
- Scrolls are made available on-line to the participating departments
- Public can verify the Akshaya e-pay receipts with the receipt number anytime, anywhere at www.e-kendra.org/bill
- Services are made within easy reach of consumers from rural area and thereby save consumers’ costs on distant and repeated travel
- Flexible timing at the convenience of the customers
The project is implemented by Kerala State IT Mission with the technical support from Centre for Development of Imaging Technology, banking support from State Bank of India and using the network of Akshaya. Akshaya gives training to entrepreneurs who are interested in setting up the e-pay platform in their e-centres. An implementation committee is constituted in each district with district collector, Akshaya project coordinator and the representatives from the user departments as its members.
Kerala State IT Mission implemented Akshaya e-centres as an extension of FRIENDS, which is single window utility bill payment centre set up in all district headquarters. Internet banking facility of State Bank of India is used for transferring funds. The Akshaya entrepreneurs constitute the private participation in this model. Other stake holders in the model are the FRIENDS Janasevana kendrams of Government of Kerala and the SBI online. The Akshaya entrepreneurs open account with the nodal branch of SBI. The amount collected by the Akshaya entrepreneurs through Akshaya e-pay is transferred online from the entrepreneur’s account to FRIENDS account on the same day itself. Project Manager, FRIENDS transfers the fund collected through e-pay to the corresponding bank account opened by the participating departments the very next day. Technical Team from C-DIT is the total solution providers of the programme.
Achievement of the project
e-Pay is one of the best examples for extending the possibilities of ICT tools to broaden the reach and scope of government services. e-pay is an online system for collecting various utility bills from the citizens. This platform provides facility to remit electricity charges, BSNL telephone bills (landline & mobile), Kerala Water Authority bills and fees and charges to Calicut University.
The main services of the e-pay counters are:
1.It provides facility for online updating of backend data
2.Cash transfer through secure SBI bank bone
3.On-line payment facility with credit/debit cards will be introduced soon
4.Payments to departments settled by FRIENDS Janasevanakendrams in the very next day. (FRIENDS – Fast Reliable Instant Effective Network for Disbursement of Services - is a single window utility bill payment centre)
5.Scrolls are made available online to the participating departments
6.Public can verify the Akshaya e-pay receipts with the receipt number anytime, anywhere at www.e-kendra.org/bill
7.Services are made within easy reach of consumers from rural area and thereby save consumers’ costs on distant and repeated travel. E-Pay facility is available to the public at Akhaya e-centres at a nominal cost of Rs 5 or Rs 6 per transaction. But it saves the customers who reside in remote areas, the cost and energy, required to go to the respective government offices and to pay the bill waiting endlessly in long queues.
8.Flexible timing at the convenience of the customers
9.An official from each department has been entrusted with the duty of collecting the tax and various charges. But once the task is handed over to the e-pay counters, the departments can save the cost for maintaining the section. The valuable time and energy of the employee could also be saved for more constructive jobs within the department. As e-pay platform offers an online payment facility, the time required at the e-pay counters is minimal compared to the manual system of recording data and giving receipts in black and white.
Akshaya e-pay application is browser based, developed on Dot Net platform with MS SQL as RDBMS. The site is secured with VeriSign. The server is located at Data Centre set up by Government of Kerala.
For more information, visit: www.e-kendra.org