World Bank Backs Bhoomi Project

Bangalore, May 23: | Updated: May 24 2003, 05:30am hrs
The Karnataka governments much debated Bhoomi project- the computerisation of 20 million land records of 7 million farmers, improvement in hospital services, turning around of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and transport regulatory service reforms received overwhelming support and admiration from the World Bank on Friday.

Although, the World Bank lauded the successful private-public sector participation in these projects, it favoured that these projects should not only be restricted to remain urban-centric but also taken to rural areas. The World Bank made its observation at a discussion on service delivery reforms: case studies from Karnataka at the concluding day of the World Bank-National Council for Applied Economic Research sponsored annual bank conference on development economics.

World Banks Vikram Chand said that implementation of these projects was a success due to active support and will from political executives and civil servants. However, he noted that these projects were carried out largely in urban areas mainly due to urban/middle class pressure in view of increasing demand for better services. He reiterated that efforts be made to take it to rural areas and make it sustainable. According to Karnatkas additional secretary Rajeev Chawla, so far nearly 10 million land records have already been collected by farmers since the launch of the Bhoomi project through 177 centres after the payment of Rs 15 per copy. The government, which had spent Rs 20 crore on this project, has already collected Rs 18 crore. The opportunities are enormous and the implementation of the Bhoomi project has brought in efficiency and reduction in corruption, he noted.

Mr K Jairaj, vice chairman and managing director, KSRTC, said that KSRTCs turn around has shown that public organisations must focus on operational effectiveness for effective service delivery, establish feedback mechanisms for the public, create a sense of ownership among staff and establish performance incentives to shape staff behaviour. It has emphasised that the management must innovate and measure results.

On transport regulatory service reforms, Mr K Aiyappa, state transport commissioner, said that computerisation covers all transactions of road transport organization (RTO). He informed that the department proposes to introduce smart card scheme for RC books, driving license, launch of online hand held terminals for effective enforcement, inter state connectivity and mobile computing for information access through GSM.