ENVIRONMENT GOVERNANCE THROUGH E-GOVERNANCE
GUJARAT POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) was established in 1974 as a regulator to prevent and control pollution in the State of Gujarat for implementation of various Environmental and Pollution Prevention & Control Acts and Rules. It would be pertinent to mention that Gujarat is highly industrialized state with a strong presence of Micro Small and Medium Scale industries which are about 85% of the more than 20,000 industrial units in the state run by people coming from different sections of the society, varied ethnic groups, minorities etc. These units have plethora of problems regarding manpower, adequate resources, finances etc. They have characteristically different environmental problems than those of Large Scale industries. The conventional approach of the Bard has been “Command and Control” which could not be address the main issue of facilitating industries. Hence it was imperative to identify and implant a solution which could address the problems especially considering the Small and Micro Scale Units without adversely affecting the main focus of pollution control and environment preservation. The following limitations and problems were there in existing in the manual system: •Due to the inherent problem of procedural delays and red-tapism in the manual system, there was a lack of user-friendliness, transparency and efficiency in the system. •Saving valued time, conserving resources and curtailing undue delays for the industrial units in manual system were not possible. •The manual system was man-power intensive and catering to such large number of stakeholders with constraint of manpower was an uphill task. •Due to the manual system, there was lack of uniformity in procedure and poor decision making in the sense that the same varied from office to office and person to person making the industrial units more vulnerable to middle man system. •Due to lack of transparency and efficient working pattern, it resulted into impressing the people that board is an epicentre of power encouraging rigidity and buck passing. •Appropriate system to track and communicate the actions taken on the grievances lodged by the common citizen did not exist. •Small and Micro Scale Businesses and Entrepreneurs had an issue of regulatory compliance and making applications for the necessary permits in the manual system. •Due to data lying in physical files, it was a limitation to extract the data and use it towards structured monitoring programs for betterment of the environment •Due to fragmented and unarranged data, it affected the core decision and policy making in the regions and state. •Adequate research on persistent environmental problems could not be carried out in absence of appropriate data availability and non-recognition of issues due to manual and physical file system. •Due to manual system data secrecy and fool-proofness especially of laboratory samples collected was sacrificed. •The manual system was a hindrance in implementation of systemic reforms within the organisation. The above were the problems and limitations in the existing system before the implementation of the initiative.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Considering the problems and limitations in the existing system as mentioned in point 1, Board decided to switch over to e-Governance which is unique in its nature for a regulatory authority and step forward to eliminate red-tapism & middle-man system and promoting transparency amongst the stake-holders and to overcome not only the constraint of manpower but also to bring about speedy decision and transparent working for betterment of small and micro businesses.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
It was first of its kind and a novel effort to implement e-Governance in environmental management and regulation by a government agency in India. The salient points of the strategy framed to develop the initiative as the solution to the problems are: •To do away with red-tapism and middle-man system (a major constraint in third world economy) and come out of the tenacity of inspectorship alongwith giving ease to the industries. •To integrate all stakeholders on single platform •User shall directly understand the process- system shall be user friendly •To provide Help Desk at Regional Office for ease of operations of Small and Micro Business. •To make a web based application for its easy accessibility from any corner of the world •To develop the initiative in a modular manner – brick by brick with regular brain storming sessions with all the stakeholders hence reducing burden on the stakeholders. •All necessary data inputs shall be by the stakeholders and duly validated by GPCB •Rigorous capacity building towards this initiative for all the stakeholders through class room and hands on training. •To improve upon by regular brain storming sessions with all the stakeholders at various levels on building up of the initiative •Once proven and tested, the same shall be offered for its replication to other State Pollution Control Boards of the Country for their betterment without cost after due Memorandum of Understanding. The main objective of the transformation was to offer Good Governance and environment management through e-Governance with following main objectives: •Prevention and Control of pollution in the state using this tool. •Simplifying procedure through this application •Offer Transparency to the stakeholders •Research based policy interventions •Offer better services to all the stakeholders •Make Organization / officers more Accountable •Make Organization Credible •Make Organization Citizen Centric •To reap other intangible benefits come up with new system Apart from adding transparency in working of the Board, it was envisaged use of XGN will help the Board and its stake holders resulting into tremendous improvement in performance of the Board and thereby enhanced level of implementation of environmental acts/ rules in addition to the improved services to all the stakeholders. It was also planned that XGN would facilitate day to day operations at field offices and head office of the State Pollution Control Boards. Thereafter the important stake holders like industries, health care units etc. shall carry out all the work pertaining to GPCB like filing applications, tracking the status, online replies, submission of returns, statements, data etc. mandated vide various Acts/ Rules and conditions stipulated by the Board through XGN only. Initially it was decided that this initiative shall maintain basic environmental database of all the industries and to enable industries to file online applications with a view to keep track of all the applications filed by industries. And thereafter on availability of precise data other modules encompassing various other regulatory functions be developed and made available.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The initiative is a first of its kind of novel effort without any precedence in the Environmental Regulatory Domain and hence is creative and innovative. The new system has given birth of many new innovations in the environment management at state level which was not feasible in the manual system. To illustrate few of them: •‘Waste Exchange Bank’ facility is available for the waste generator and waste utilizer stakeholders nurturing the symbiotic relation between them. Co-processing of high calorific waste in the cement industry is the prominent activity being carried out with the facility. This has not only reduced the generation of Green House Gases(GHGs) but reduced the use of natural resources like fossil fuel and has significantly reduced the wastes going to the land fill site and answered the problem of NIMBY(Not In My Back Yard) syndrome. •Online monitoring of the Hazardous Wastes Movement securing the Cradle to Grave philosophy of hazardous wastes management •e-Governance initiative has formed the basis of the concept of “Environment Clinic” program adopted by the GPCB in which XGN is the platform for the typical technical problems and its solutions for the industry which is coordinated by the Regional Offices of the Board •Monitoring of the industry through Implementation of the Continuous Emission Monitoring System (CEMS) under the e-governance initiative. •It is a platform to promote the program “Environment as a sector of Employment” adopted by the Board. In addition to the above, procedural transformation due to the new system brought following outcome: •Transparency in file movement – the applicant can keep online track of his application. •Quick actions against defaulting industries. Hence better enforcement of Environmental laws. •Reduction in number of units operating without permission of the Board. •Complainant can keep online track about action taken in connection of his complaint.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
To cater and address the above problems, Board decided to adopted e-Governance initiative for better environmental management and regulation in 2008. Under this e-governance initiative it was decided to implement a web based application which was jointly developed by NIC (National Informatics Center - Gujarat) and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board after series of interaction with all stakeholders. It was launched as an IT-solution considering all the stakeholders at center, aiding the GPCB in effective and qualitative implementation of Environmental Laws for Air, Water & Hazardous Waste including rules for management of Plastic, Bio-Medical and Municipal Waste etc. with continual improvement.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The primary implementation strategy for the initiative was to build the system in a modular way i.e. brick by brick and not to start implementing after building the whole system. This would help in faster implementation & would ease the operations considering the quantum of data and number of stakeholders involved. Each of the module was developed after understanding the need of stakeholders, priority of the issue, legal requirements, procedural aspects to be followed and due consultation with the stakeholders. Each Module was then initially released for the trial period in which the teething problems of the stakeholders are being resolved through online communications. Thereafter it becomes regular in the system. The implementing strategy was that instead of feeding the data into database by single agency, it should evolve through the concerned stakeholders and be validated by GPCB. Hence, it was decided that the data shall be submitted by the industries, Health Care Units and other stake holders which in turn shall be validated by GPCB officials. For this purpose, extensive capacity building programs of all the stake holders were carried out and this implementing strategy was successful in building strong and robust database with optimum manpower resources available. To have inbuilt internal performance evaluation system within the initiative was also an important part of the strategy for this initiative. Hence, a ranking and performance evaluation system is developed to promote healthy competition within the organization. It was strategized that all the major 38 transactions between GPCB & stake holders should be communicated through electronic means. These include:- 1. HCU-Healthcare Units IDs & Passwords 2. Bio-Medical Waste (BMW) Authorizations 3. BMW Rejection 4. Consolidated Consents & Authorisation (CCA) Expiry Alert Bulk SMS to Industries 5. Complainant Letters 6. Consent To Establish (CTE) / CCA Grant 7. CTE / CCA Reject 8. Consultants ID password 9. Processing stage of the Application 10. Due For Extension of the Application 11. e-Outward Legal Notices 12. e-Outward CCA Grants/Reject 13. Environmental Clearance (EC)-Registration 14. EC-State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) Meeting 15. Editing of Water Cess entries by GPCB Staff 16. Grant / Reject of application 17. Industry Registration with Auditors 18. LAB. Billing to the Stake Holders 19. On Demand : Application Status 20. On Demand : Defaulter Industry 21. On Demand : Industry Details from GPCB ID 22. Online Application ACCEPTANCE 23. Online Application Query 24. Outstanding Payments 25. Payment & File Received 26. Query from R.O to the Stake Holders 27. Query from H.O to the Stake Holders 28. Release ID & Password for INDUSTRY 29. RTGS Discrepancy SMS TO RO 30. Sample Result Declaration SMS to the Industry 31. Sample Violation Alert to the Stake Holders 32. Updation by Industry Towards Consent 33. Water Cess Assessment Orders to the Stake Holders 34. Water Cess Bills Cleared from Surplus 35. Water Cess Bills Pending / Due in next 5 Days 36. Water Cess Bills 37. Water Cess Return 38. Miscellaneous / Others An illustrative list showing the broad chronology in which the modules and in turn the initiative was built is as under: 1. Development of Database of Industries and Waste Generators 2. Development of transparent permit system for the Industries and the Waste Generators 3. Integration of Inspection Reports and Sample Analysis with the database 4. Development of CTE / CCA Management System 5. Integration of Water Cess and Lab Charges with the Industrial database 6. Development of Platform for Co-processing of waste 7. Complaint / Grievances Management Module 8. Development and Integration of System for Environmental Audit Scheme 9. Development of Internal Performance Evaluation of GPCB Officials. 10. Deveopment of the module for the CEMS data transfer The initiative is not resource intensive but it was mainly the change of mindset and working pattern of the stake holders that was the key to the success of the initiative. For initial design of the initiative and for fine tuning time to time a Core Group is formed which acts as the think tank for the initiative on different modules to achieve the objectives. The members of the Group are chosen from various stakeholders of the initiative. GPCB and NIC, Gandhinagar’s internal resources were used and for some period Rs. 1 Million which is about US$ 20,000 was spent after the project which is peanuts compared to the advantages accrued due to the initiative. Since there was not recruitment of additional staff for the initiative, there are almost no human resources’ cost attached to the initiative except exclusive manpower allocated for the Help Desk initiated to support the project at all Regional Offices considering the strong presence of micro and small sector industrial units in the state and their inherent limitations. In addition to the above, Extension Centres to facilitate the above initiative at the industrial cluster level were established. As per the provisions in the Water Cess Act, 1977 and the rules made thereunder a portion of the Water Cess collected by GPCB is used for the initiative. Thus the entire program is supported through GPCB’s own funding and specific budget for it is earmarked by the Board in each of the financial year since the project has been commissioned.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The stake holders who contributed to the design and implementation of this initiative are as under: 1. More than 24,000 Industrial Units of Small, Medium and Large Sectors 2. More than 35,000 Health Care Units ranging from Civil Hospitals to General Practitioner 3. Common Bio Medical Waste Treatment Facilities 4. Common Effluent Treatment Plants 5. TSDFs-Hazardous Waste Handlers 6. Registered Re-cyclers for various wastes and scrap metals 7. Local bodies and authorities 8. Environment auditors 9. Environmental Consulting Firms 10. Non-Government Organisations 11. All the officers and employees of GPCB working at the 27 Regional Offices and 9 Laboratories across the state. 12. Non-Government Institutional Laboratories like Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology (GUIDE) etc. Above all stake holders were consulted during the evaluation of the system through brain storming sessions. There suggestion / difficulties in the operation were considered for the improvement of the system.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
(1) Transparent, speedy, ease in process and sound decision making as well as instantaneous communication with businesses : Under the different environmental Acts / Rules, businesses are mandated to obtain prior necessary permission(s) before commencing their business and are a pre-requisite for the businesses for obtaining electricity connection, land allotment, other Government permission and to avail financial aid from financial institutes / Banks. Previously, entire process of submission of application, its scrutiny, decision taking and intimation of the decision to the applicant by the Board was manual. This manual approach obviously was taking time and was also necessitating the businesses to approach various offices / officers of the Board personally and thus encouraging red-tapism. To remove this red-tapism the entire process has been made transparent and smoother. Tracking of application status at all levels and obtaining decisions online without coming to any officer was made possible due to this initiative. Due to this the average time for processing the permits is reduced by almost half. There was also reduction in consent rejection ratio benefitting the businesses as a whole towards environmental compliance. The basic objectives achieved were transparency, speed & ease in process which any businesses would expect in this era of IT. (2) Platform for waste exchange – facilitating use of waste as fuel and / or raw material : After the Kyoto Protocol and debates on Climate Change the global scenarios with respect to use of fuel, emissions due to it and greenhouse gas emissions have totally changed. Thus it is required that the development meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own need. It is the need of the hour that conservation of energy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is taken care for the same. Hence it is of prime importance to manage waste, which is considered as the resource at wrong place. India is an energy deficit country and imports crude, coal, natural gas to meet with energy demand and therefore any savings in consumption of fossil fuels is net saving in foreign exchange for the country. GPCB has promoted this thinking by adopting reuse/recycle of wastes as an alternate to fuel and/or raw material wherever feasible. Here, energy in the waste is harnessed by co-processing it in cement, power and steel industries. By co-processing, the bottom line of the businesses improves and the cost of environmental compliances is reduced. Using the large database of different wastes generated by the businesses available on XGN a platform is provided for waste exchange. This has become instrumental for co-processing of wastes in cement industry in a big way. Module provided for co-processing facilitated cement industries to utilize data base generated by other businesses. Cement industry subsequently interacted with other businesses that generate such wastes through XGN so as to use it as raw material or for co-processing at their facility. Thus the energy costs of the cement industry are thus reduced. Also, the high cost of treatment induced the industries to discharge the waste by surreptitious way which affected the society. Now since the waste is utilised as raw material or fuel such risks are eliminated. Cement industries in Gujarat have utilized this data base and since 2009-10, they have used 389423.44 MT either as alternate to fuel or alternate to raw material. In other words, it can also be said this waste that would otherwise have gone to either incineration and / or TSDF facilities have gone to cement industries and have saved the energy and resources. Thus, this approach has resulted into saving of energy that would be required not only for incineration of waste but also energy and raw materials required by the cement industry. Pollution footprint attributed to these activities has also proportionately thereby substantially decreased. (3) Benefits to the citizens in general One of the most important stakeholders of the organization is the citizens in general and the organization is given mandate to resolve their complaints related to environmental degradation. The citizens can file online application to lodge complaint simply by logging on the site, can track its status and get the action taken information through e-mail and SMS alerts. There is no need to visit the office to file any complaint or make tedious correspondence like the earlier system. The citizens do not have to pay anything for availing the online complaint module facility, and can save upon the correspondence charge. They save upon travel cost not only by e-filing of the complaints but also getting the response for the same. The e-governance has helped citizens know the statistics of the organization on day to day basis, involving the permissions granted to and legal actions against the industries which could otherwise be known only through expensive and tedious modes of communications and RTI. The e-governance has enabled reduction in overall paper consumption on the part of both, the organization and the citizens in general owing to the fact that all the correspondence is necessarily through the e- mails and SMS (4) Benefits to the Industries: The industries are the most beneficiary stakeholders of the e-governance program. Provides flexibility by multipoint access as it is web based software. Also it is operating 24x7 as against earlier system of time consuming and with single point access. There is no need on the part of the industry to visit the office. In availing the online facility the industries do not have to pay any charges. All important data, permissions, legal documents etc. can remain in the soft form in the database and can be retrieved by the industry whenever needed, thus avoiding need to preserve physical data and direct or indirect expenditure involved in it. Industries can print their own consent order, Bills, Payments Receipts, Assessment Orders and Results without visiting the office is also a ‘green way’ of communication associated with lot of tangible and intangible benefits to the industry. Online generation of manifest system has removed botheration of multiple copy generation, record keeping etc. Facility of payment through RTGS has made life even simpler for the industries. The system provides Cleaner Technology options to several sectors of industries, which the industries can straight away adopt for better results in productivity and pollution control. Industry specific environmental guidelines are made available through system for better compliances. Concept of well-defined Formats is recently introduced to enable industries to assess its position with regards to compliances of various environmental attributes. (5) Benefits to the Research Institutes: The initiative has been a great benefit for the research institutes. Earlier since the data was lying in physical files and retrieval of the same was a huge challenge. With the introduction of this initiative, wherein biggest flexibility of the system is its multipoint access as it is web based software, all data are preserved in digital form with utmost security in distant server(s) and are retrievable – less susceptible of loss of data / willful action(s) for delay too. Thus this data is now used by various research organisations throughout the globe to work towards better environmental management and few of them are as under: A. Data was used by Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation for estimating Green House Gas Emissions and modeling its future trends under its climate change project. B. Data from the project is being used by International universities like Harvard and MIT to help GPCB in devising evidence based policy C. Data is being used by NGOs like J-PAL to assist GPCB for formulating policy intervention tools D. It has opened a new era of evidence based policy intervention for the organization

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The major limitations/issues in implementing the idea on ground were: •No such successful model available in the regulatory domain for regulatory purpose. Therefore no precedence is available and hence a new path was to be charted. •The initiative required many business processes re-engineering which is difficult in government process especially in regulatory set up like GPCB. •Inherent internal resistance to bring transparency in a bureaucratic environment was a challenge in itself. •Changing mindset of the stakeholders for the adoption of the novel tool was also a great challenge •Practices followed at the time of implementation were fixed without much flexibility and new system was to be molded according to that which was causing many restraints. •At the time of implementation of XGN, organization faced challenges due non-availability of infrastructure especially web connectivity •Due to e-governance initiative being implemented, pending work surfaced out and to cope up with this enormous visible pending work and the increased workload subsequently posed a big challenge. •Initially the staff was not computer savvy and huge capacity building exercise was required •Initially there was resistance from Consultants and Businesses which were more accustomed with Manual system and also the fact that transparency of the system killed monopolistic practices •GPCB has no in-house IT specialist staff •Average age of the staff in the organization was around 50 at the time of implementation of initiative so that itself was a big challenge.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
•Transparency of the operations is the core strength of this application. Businesses can view the status of its industry so as is the case of the complaint filed by the citizen. This has substantially curtailed the time for the disposal of the application in comparison to the earlier system. This has also reduced the “red- tapism” to the great extent in our organization which is usually prevalent in any regulatory regime. •Removal of middleman from the system and the users directly interact through the system and this helps in simplifying the operations for the owner. •Each major transaction gives a SMS to the stake holder. This is superb e-communication tool which has reduced the physical hassle for the industries to reach concerned office for the rigorous follow up. Online alerts are also given to the industry if any compliance is pending at the industry level. This has increased a compliance of regulatory requirements and resulted ultimately in to the better pollution control. It has been proved an excellent environment management tool for the industries towards better environmental compliance. •This has helped in reducing to the response time for the citizen approaching to the Board for various reasons. For the complaint, acknowledgement of the complaint, site investigation alert, interim reply and final reply can be seen online with transparency. •Monthly data submitted for hazardous waste disposal, BMW disposal etc. online automatically generates annual return for the given year. This reduces the burden on the small and micro business enterprise and also eliminates the previous need for middle-man for filing such returns. •History of legal compliance(s), application status, water cess returns, water cess payment, laboratory charges payment etc. are maintained in the system and hence industry doesn’t require to maintain any separate data and when need arise – all such data can be availed at one stroke. In nutshell, with the advent of the system which is easily accessible and user friendly, the transparency of the organization has increased to manifold with ease to the stakeholder by quick response, getting rid of red-tapism and middle-man system with fruits of better environment management by businesses.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Due to the implementation of the initiative there has been manifold improvement in the integrity in public service provided by GPCB and to have better accountability within organisation on the delivery of public services. •Transparency of the operations is the core strength of this application. The implementation of this initiative lets businesses can view the status of its industry so as is the case of the complaint filed by the citizen. This has substantially curtailed the time for the disposal of the application in comparison to the earlier system. This has also reduced the “red- tapism” to a great extent which is usually prevalent in any regulatory regime. •Removal of middleman from the system and the users directly interact through the system and this helps in simplifying the operations for the owner. Which in turn also helps for removing corruption and bad practices from the system. •Due to the top down approach adopted in the initiative, the pendency of files, cases and applications is visible from all levels within organisation, GPCB now has better accountability within organisation on the delivery of public services which has resulted in decrease of delivery time from 120 days to about 45 to 51 days at present. •This has helped in reducing to the response time for the citizen approaching to the Board for various reasons. For the complaint, acknowledgement of the complaint, site investigation alert, interim reply and final reply can be seen online with transparency. In nutshell, with the advent of the system which is easily accessible and user friendly, the transparency of the organization has increased to manifold with ease to the stakeholder by quick response, getting rid of red-tapism and middle-man system with fruits of better environment management by businesses.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Not Applicable

Contact Information

Institution Name:   GUJARAT POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   HARDIK SHAH
Title:   MEMBER SECRETARY  
Telephone/ Fax:   00917923232152
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   ps2mefcc@gov.in  
Address:   PARYAVARAN BHAVAN SECTOR 10 A
Postal Code:   382010
City:   GANDHINAGAR
State/Province:   GUJARAT
Country:  

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