CSCs will provide free BharatNet services: Ravi Shankar Prasad

S Ronendra Singh Rewari (Haryana) | Updated on December 25, 2019

As a step to empower rural India, Wifi will be offered free for 3 months, says the IT Minister

The Government on Wednesday said that it will provide free Internet for the next three months to all the villages connected through Common Service Centres (CSCs).

Speaking here at an event, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, said that the villages connected to BharatNet will get WiFi services free of charge till March 2020.

“We have already connected 1.3 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) through BharatNet. Our target is to take this to 2.5 lakh GPs. To promote utilisation of BharatNet services we will provide free WiFi in all villages connected through BharatNet till March 2020,” Prasad said while inaugurating Digital Village Gurawara in Rewari (Haryana).

There are 3.60 lakh CSCs in around 2.25 lakh GPs today. Till now, WiFi is available in 48,000 villages.

‘Digital’ villages

He said that the target of the government is to convert at least 15 per cent of the villages to digital villages during the tenure of this government.

Prasad said that the process of empowering villages is on track and the ‘day is not far off when rural India will take lead in shaping India of dreams’.

Prasad added, “Being in a village on Good Governance Day and being a part of shaping village to match the government’s resolve to make Digital India gives me solace and realisation of long cherished dream of the NDA. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi are resolved and committed to empowering rural India.”

Dinesh Tyagi, Chief Executive Officer, CSC, said that the the Digital Village scheme was announced during Budget 2015-2016 and initially, CSC implemented the scheme in five locations as a pilot. “Considering the success of the pilot project, we have been given the task of setting up 700 Digital Villages across the country, one in every district,” he said.

Access to services

Digital Village focusses on empowering the entire village community by providing access to education, health or financial services through the digital medium.

“The Digital Village scheme has the potential to truly transform the village economy and reduce the digital divide,” he said.

Tyagi also said that Internet services will also give a filip to the village level entrepreneurs (VLE) as selling the Internet packages itself will generate a lot of revenue for them.

For instance, if a VLE can sell 200 coupons in a month worth ₹ 100 each, he/ she can earn ₹ 20,000 per month from this only, he added.

Ultimately, such mechanisms will help CSC earn more revenue. As of last year, CSCs had earned a net profit of ₹50 crore and recorded a turnover of ₹350 crore, and this year, the performance is expected to be better than last year.

Published on December 25, 2019

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