Bihar mukhiyas to get smartphones

PATNA: With a view to increasing the efficiency of mukhiyas and gram panchayats, the state government has decided to provide smartphones to all mukhiyas across the state.

State panchayati raj minister Bhim Singh told TOI, "This decision has been taken to improve the administrative efficiency of mukhiyas and gram panchayats, so that they remain updated with the activities of the department and give suggestions online. If they face any problem, they can also use our online helpline."

However, the department has not allocated any specific funds for the scheme. The minister said, "The government will soon issue guideline to every mukhiya enabling them to use a fixed amount from the administrative fund of the gram panchayat to buy smart phones." The scheme is expected to bring transparency in the functioning of panchayats, check all kinds of irregularities, help in implementation of fast-track schemes for poor beneficiaries and ensure development at the ground level.

The minister said, "Panchayati raj department is fast adopting e-governance. All our processes, including accounting, mapping, funding, operation, administration will be done electronically in near future." Within two months, all the 8,402 mukhiyas will own smart phones. The state government has also decided to provide each gram panchayat an executive assistant who will have a laptop to stay updated.

The government is yet to finalize the upper limit of price of smart phone. The minister said, "It would be roughly around Rs 8,000. If any mukhiya wishes to buy a costlier phone, s/he will have to spend the balance from his/her own pocket."

The department won't give any training to mukhiyas for using smart phones. The government will not pay the mobile or Internet bill either. The government has not collaborated with any mobile store, mobile company or mobile network company for this scheme. Mukhiyas are free to buy mobile phone of any company from any mobile store and use sim card of any network, the minister said.