In an innovative departure, the government of Karnataka is set to outsource to experts all citizen queries about the government.
It says it has planned a business process outsourcing centre, first of its kind in the country, exclusively for filing petitions under the national Right to Information Act.
Citizens need to only call the centre, expected to be located in Banglore, to file RTI applications, for a fee. "We will open a call centre in Bangalore for the process and a person can call up the centre and file an RTI against any department in the state. Unlike other BPO calls, the user will be charged. The charge will be considered as the fee for filing an RTI (application)," M N Vidyashankar, principal secretary of the e-Governance department told Business Standard.
Called "Mahiti" (information in Kannada), the project will be launched in June. The BPO is to be clubbed with a grievance redressal supervision and monitoring system, to track the RTI complaints.
Vidyashankar said the BPO is to work for 12 hours a day.
"After studying the response, we might extend the timing to make it available round-the-clock. With this, more people can seek information through the RTI route," he said.
One may file RTI queries in both in Kannada and English. Karnataka presently sees 60,000 to 65,000 RTI filings every year.
According to highly placed sources, leading Indian and global information technology companies which also offer BPO services have expressed interest in the project.
The selected one is expected to be announced later this week.
Apart from this, the state government is planning to make all financial transactions of the finance department, paperless.
The department has initiated the project and has received preliminary bids.
It is understood that nine companies (including India's top IT service providers Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro) have expressed interest in participating.
When asked about enrollment in the Unique Identification project ('Aadhaar'), Vidyashankar said 1.5 million people had been added in the first phase. The government is planning to appoint an agency each in the four revenue divisions of Bangalore, Gulbarga, Belgaum and Mysore for the process.
"We expect to launch the enrolment drive in Bangalore from April 1. There will be one permanent enrollment centre in all districts," said Vidyashankar.
The e-governance department is to shortly commission its second data centre, with an investment of Rs. 53 crore (Rs. 530 million). It will be maintained by TCS for five years.