K'taka tackles key data challenge to improve governance

Karnataka tackles key data challenge to improve governance

Representative image.

What does it take to identify landowners who also possess BPL cards? Or, leakage in toilets subsidy vis-a-vis the number of houses that have claimed the benefit? 

The answer: Scouring through vast sets of numbers, a laborious effort in the age of data analytics. 

Karnataka, which has just unveiled its first public information disclosure platform, is embarking on solving its biggest data challenge - standardisation of data pertaining to all 30,000 villages - in order to improve governance. 

The e-Governance department is working on full implementation of the Local Government Directory (LGD), under which every village, taluk, and district will get a common code.

“Take for example the land database and BPL database. How many people own land, but also have a BPL card? Isn’t this an important administrative issue, if landowners are claiming to be poor? For me to run this query on a computer, which understands only code, villages in both databases need to have common code. And that’s where the LGD comes in,” Additional Chief Secretary (e-Governance) Rajeev Chawla explained. 

“What’s happening now is that one department identifies a village as 1 whereas another department identifies the same village as 7. Because departments don’t use uniform village codes, data integration becomes a difficult task,” he said. 

This was a challenge authorities faced while they toiled for about six months to put together the Mahiti Kanaja (www.mahitikanaja.karnataka.gov.in), which provides village-level information on a dozen government services. 

“Right now, a user needs to select a service, then district, then taluk and village at the end. Ideally, a user should first select a village and then be able to choose a service whose details he or she wants. For that to happen, we need to ensure all departments use the same LGD code so that data consolidation happens,” Chawla, who was instrumental in digitisation of land records in Karnataka, said. “It’s a huge task.”

At present, the Bhoomi land records, RDPR and Food & Civil Supplies use common LGD codes, whereas caste/income, housing database of the Rajiv Gandhi Housing Corporation Ltd among others do not. 

Chawla said the Mahiti Kanaja itself is a “revolutionary” move as the government is voluntarily disclosing information to help citizens check how public money is being used. “Now, one can check if someone in a village has wrongfully claimed government money to build a house or falsely benefited under health insurance,” Chawla said.