It is a well known fact that the idea of an e-district was first conceived of and implemented by Mr.Umasankar, IAS, one of the pioneers of e-Governance in India (it is also a fact that we have lost a brilliant IT savvy officer when he decided to move on from IT to the Almighty!), when he was the district collector of Tiruvarur district in Tamil Nadu. It was mostly related to the revenue side and even had online Jamabandhi, the annual settlement of revenues. The concept of an e-district had become an implementation point under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).
When I joined Krishnagiri District as District Collector in 2006, I drafted an e-District Project within a couple of months and sent it to the IT department, Government of Tamil Nadu, for inclusion of Krishnagiri district also in the pilot districts chosen for implementation. I should thank Mr.Umasankar IAS for ensuring the inclusion of Krishnagiri, against much resistance. Krishnagiri was finally included along with 4 other districts as pilot e-Districts. I waited and waited for approval....
In March 2008, the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was visiting Krishnagiri for the inauguration of the newly constructed Collectorate. I called up the then IT Secretary and requested him to make use of this opportunity to launch the e-Districts programme in Tamil Nadu. Given the time constraint of getting approvals etc. (I had asked him a day before the visit of the CM!!!), he expressed his difficulty. So I did the next best thing. I called up the then Union Minister for IT & Communications, Mr.C.Raja and asked him whether the launch could be possible. He was excited! He asked me for the district collector's fax number. In about one hour, we received the fax! It was the approval with financial sanction of the Union IT Ministry to the proposal of the Tamil Nadu Government for including 5 districts under the -E-District project! Mr.Raja called me and asked me to inform the CM's Secretary Mr.TR Ramasamy IAS, accordingly and also requested me to "inform Thalaivar" that the sanction was given by him"!!!
The Hon'ble CM launched the e-District project at Krishnagiri.
Luckily for me, I was next posted as the MD ELCOT & Director e-Governance & CEO, TNEGA as successor to Mr.Umasankar IAS.
Thus I was in a vantage position to implement the project. One of the biggest achievements under this project was the launch of the e-District software developed by an outstanding team of NIC Chennai under my leadership in December 2010! About 10 digitally signed certificates (including community, nativity, solvency, income certificates etc.) could be issued to citizens with the citizen not needing to go outside his home!!!
Today lakhs of certificates have been issued through the e-District portal www.edistrict.tn.gov.in. Three marriage schemes under the Social Welfare Department, three scholarships of the BC/MBC/DC department and AD &TW department etc. are also part of this portal. It is a pity that there has been no addition of citizen services in this portal since 2010. The e-District Portal was launched by the Chief Minister in 2010.
It is another story as to how I got the approval for a digitally signed certificate. That will make interesting reading. This is covered in "Anecdotes".