FRIENDS celebrate a decade of service

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Tvm: The FRIENDS (Fast Reliable Instant Effective Network for Disbursement of Services) single window facility in Kerala has completed ten years of service. The tenth anniversary celebrations were inaugurated today by the Chief Minister Shri V S Achuthanandan at the FRIENDS Janaseva Kendram at Thiruvananthapuram. He also launched the FREES online software which will enable real time web integration of FRIENDS.

Speaking on the occasion, the CM said that FRIENDS is a classic model where the benefits of Information Technology could reach the common man. Launching the FREES software would bring the G2C services on their desktop.

In his welcome speech, Dr. Ajay Kumar IAS, Principal Secretary (IT) said, “This is probably the first time in India that a tenth anniversary is being celebrated of an e-Governance project. This shows that Kerala is a leader in putting e-governance into practice.”  He also added that with the launch of FREES software, more services can be added seamlessly through FRIENDS. The Akshaya e-Kendras can also be integrated into the FRIENDS network thereby utilising their 2200 strong network to reach more people.

The FREES software has been developed by the National Informatics Centre, Kerala using FOSS at no additional cost to the government. The software will enable the departments, whose services are being provided at the FRIENDS centres, to download payments details on a real time basis. This was being done manually. The new software will also facilitate anywhere anytime online payments after the complete rollout.

Speaking to Kerala IT News, Rajeevan Chaladan, Mission Coordinator, Kerala State IT Mission, the implementing agency for FRIENDS, said that in the next 2-3 months, State Bank of Travancore customers will be able to make direct transfer of utilities’ payments through Net Banking. The payment gateway for other banks and credit / debit cards will be set up gradually.

The FRIENDS single window facility was launched in June 2000 by the then Chief Minister Shri E K Nayanar. The FRIENDS centres across the State have carried out 3 crore transactions and have remitted Rs.1,800 crores to various organisations.

Anil Philip
Kerala IT News

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