The Government has approved a Common Services Centres (CSCs) Scheme for providing support for establishing 100,000 Common Services Centers in 600,000 villages of India . The Scheme, as approved by the Government of India, envisions CSCs as the front-end delivery points for Government, private and social sector services to rural citizens of India , in an integrated manner. The objective is to develop a platform that can enable Government, private and social sector organizations to align their social and commercial goals for the benefit of the rural population in the remotest corners of the country through a combination of IT-based as well as non-IT-based services.
Figure: Honey Comb structure for location of CSC
The Scheme has been approved at a total cost of Rs 5742 Cr. over 4 years, of which the Government of India is estimated to contribute Rs 856 Cr. and the State Governments Rs 793 Cr. The balance resources would be mobilized from the private sector. The Common Services Centres would be designed as ICT-enabled Kiosks having a PC along with basic support equipment like Printer, Scanner, UPS, with Wireless Connectivity as the backbone and additional equipment for edutainment, telemedicine, projection systems, etc., as the case may be
The Scheme is to be implemented through a Public Private Partnership. CSCs are the primary physical front-end for delivery of Government and private services to citizens. They are one of the three pillars of the core and support infrastructure of the National e Governance Plan for enabling anytime anywhere delivery of government services, the other two being (a) the State Wide Area Network (for Connectivity) which has already been approved by the Government for Rs 3334 Cr. and b) the State Data Centre Scheme (for secure hosting of data and applications) for which the draft guidelines are under preparation.
Implementation of a mission-oriented project of this size and scope would pose significant challenges of project management at the national level as also in exploiting opportunities to achieve significant economies of scale in the identification, customization and implementation of the physical and digital infrastructure required for the project. Further, many of the potential citizen-centric services would lend themselves to aggregation at the national level. To serve the above objectives and to enable the State-specific implementation plans to benefit from such economies of scale, aggregation of best practices, content providers, etc. DIT has appointed a National Level Service Agency (NLSA) with defined Terms of Reference to coordinate the entire activity.
The CSC Scheme has a 3-tier implementation framework:
- At the first (CSC) level would be the local Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE- loosely analogous to a franchisee), to service the rural consumer in a cluster of 5-6 villages.
- At the second/middle level would be an entity termed the Service Centre Agency (SCA loosely analogous to a franchiser) to operate, manage and build the VLE network and business. An SCA would be identified for one or more districts (one district would cover 100-200 CSCs).
- At the third level would be the agency designated by the State- the State Designated Agency (SDA) - to facilitate implementation of the Scheme within the State and to provide requisite policy, content and other support to the SCAs.
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Figure: CSC Status as on March 23 2007