Internet gag hits e-governance in Kashmir

Internet gag hits e-governance in Kashmir

From filing Income Tax Returns (ITRs) to ambitious Electronic Public Distribution System (e-PDS) and filing application forms for online driving licence to accessing government health schemes, the internet gag has severely affected day-to-day government functioning. Photo/PTI

The snapping of internet services in Kashmir for the last more than four months has not only dealt a huge blow to the private sector but has also taken a heavy toll on various government services and departments.

From filing Income Tax Returns (ITRs) to ambitious Electronic Public Distribution System (e-PDS) and filing application forms for online driving licence to accessing government health schemes, the internet gag has severely affected day-to-day government functioning.

An official of PDS department said the point-of-sale (PoS) devices used in obtaining a digital record of food grain distribution are completely dependent on the internet. “We are witnessing huge hurdles in implementation of the scheme in the absence of the internet. It is impossible to operate PoS without the internet,” he said.

The official said around 3600 PoS machines installed at various ration depots and fair price shops across the Valley for catering 14.50 lakh beneficiaries have been rendered dysfunctional due to snapping of internet.

“The officials are taking the food grain distribution details manually which is a tedious process and has room for error. The internet gag has also affected more than 70,000 government employees, who are not able to submit ITRs. The e-tendering process has also taken a hit as contractors find it difficult to submit tenders online.

“The government claims that they have set up an internet facility at deputy commissioner offices, where contractors can upload their tenders. It is a cumbersome process as besides waiting for days together, competitors come to know who has quoted what rate as there is no privacy,” said Mubashir Khan, a contractor.

The Internet gag has also made 1200 Khidmat Centers of J&K Bank defunct, with their financial and utility-based services shut. These centres were set up by the Bank under Service Center Agency (SCA) and were envisaged in the national e-governance programme. 

The transport department has also been hit by the internet ban as people are unable to apply online for obtaining driving licences. Besides, the transporters say, they aren’t able to submit the fee of formalities like vehicle fitness and insurance from the last four months.

Internet services on all platforms were snapped across Kashmir hours before the Center abrogated J&K’s ‘special status’ under Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories on August 5.

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