Orissa starts e-governance with administrative teleconference by Jatindra Dash, India Abroad News Service

Bhubaneswar, Jan 8 - Orissa began its e-governance march over the weekend with the first major teleconference of district chiefs through the indigenous INSAT-3B satellite.

Chief Secretary D.P. Bagchi held the teleconference with the district chiefs of Bolangir, Kalahandi, Jharsuguda, Sundergarh, Angul, Boudh, Sambalpur, Subarnapur, Deogarh, Bargarh and Nuapara through the Gramsat project on Saturday, said Gandharba Behera, the chief executive of the Orissa Remote Sensing Application Center (ORSAC).

The state government, assisted by the Indian government's Department of Space, established ORSAC in 1984 at Bhubaneswar under the Department of Science and Technology. Saturday's was the first administrative teleconference of 12 district chiefs through satellite, Behera said. Although some other states conduct teleconferences, this was the first time a conference like this took place in Orissa on such a large scale, he said.

The chief secretary talked to the district chiefs from the ORSAC transmission studio in Cuttack, about 25 km from state capital Bhubaneswar. "Earlier the uplinking facilities were not in the state and we were operating via Ahmedabad (Gujarat). The facilities have been made available to us since November 2000," Behera told IANS.

"We have television sets in 30 districts, 50 blocks and in 30 'gram panchayats' (village councils). The computers are directly linked with the transmission studio through INSAT-3B satellite. Whoever sits in these centers can see and hear the person sitting at the transmission studio at Cuttack," he said.

The chief secretary talked to the district chiefs and reviewed various programs undertaken by the government in their respective districts, he added.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had inaugurated the Gramsat Pilot Project for Orissa in May last year.

India's INSAT-3B satellite, launched in March last year, is also helping Orissa in the identification and mapping of watersheds, delineation of suitable areas for tea, coffee, horticultural plantations, crop acreage estimation, identification of potential firming zones in coastal waters, route planning for roads and railway alignment and coastal zone management planning, Behera said.

The state government has now decided to use the transmission studio more often for such conferences, a top official said. --India Abroad News Service