Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he wants to focus not only on smart cities but also smart villages and create 50 such in 2016.

Maharashtra has developed its first smart village with the help of Microsoft in a place called Arisal, which will act as a model village to demonstrate how digitisation can help improve healthcare and other aspects of living in a village, Fadnavis said.

“Creating smart cities is creating efficiencies. Unless our cities become efficient we will be exploiting nature. We can also create smart villages,” Fadnavis said while speaking at the Microsoft Future Unleashed event here.

He said the extreme malnutrition condition in Arisal can be addressed with the help of technology. “Arisal is also called the capital of malnutrition but with an ICT-based smart project, we can change this. We are looking to integrate ICT into healthcare, education, energy and other areas,” he said.

He said he will seek Microsoft support to extend the smart village concept to 50 villages in 2016.

Broadband connectivity Union Minister for Information and Technology and Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad said the centre will be working with Microsoft to bring broadband connectivity to villages.

“We’ve laid down 10 lakh km of fibre in 10 years and we have proposed to lay out another 7 lakh km in the next 3 years. And here Microsoft and others can play a role in offering connectivity for the last mile beyond gram panchayat. White space has been worked out as a pilot project. We are open to that,” he said.

White space is a wireless technology being piloted by Microsoft that uses unlicensed TV band to provide broadband. Prasad also showed interest in allowing Microsoft to host government data in its newly opened data centres in Mumbai, Pune and Chennai.

“I have asked my department to work out a proper policy so that even government data including that of public sector utilities, can be securely stored in public data centres of private companies such as Microsoft and others,” Prasad said.