With three computers and a scanner, UP town is an open book

FP

What are the limits to administrative transparency? In Ashrafpur Kichaucha, a small town of 15,865 people in Ambedkar Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh, it seems there aren't any.

Famous for the 625-year-old shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Makhdoom Shah Ashrafi, the town has a website that could be the ultimate in e-governance. And it has been created by one man without any financial help from the government or any other agency, using three computers and a scanner.

Birth and death records of every single citizen, records of each of the 39 types of licences issued by the civic body, all building plans, all official files, every payment that a citizen makes to the local body — it is all there on the website www.npakmakdoom.com (the name derives from 'nagar panchayat Ashraf Kichaucha', and the town's famous shrine).

It does not matter that the website is not an official portal. Outside Ashrafpur Kichaucha, it is not officially recognised. But the creation of Alok Kumar Singh, executive officer of the local town area committee, is helping people and the local body in ways few imagined possible.

"When I joined the town area office as EO in June 2006, I used to see illiterate, helpless people running from pillar to post even to get their papers verified. There was corruption, they could not read the papers which were handed to them. So I planned to put in place a system so that they did not have to suffer," says Singh.

He launched the website on Independence Day, 2008. Four years later, it covers all subjects of the local body.

Says Faheem Khan: "I have been living here for ages, but my building map was approved in 2009. It is now there on the website, my son checked it on the computer in the cyber cafe. We have deposited the fee and the details of the fee receipt are also up."

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