Bengaluru: The State Cabinet has approved a mega project where over 2,500 Gram Panchayats across Karnataka will get Wi-Fi connections. The State has over 6,019 Gram Panchayats.
Once implemented, the initiative will dramatically take forward the digital and mobile-governance drive of the State. It will also put an end to rampant corruption at grassroots levels and at the same time provide government services including issuance of BPL cards in a speedy and efficient manner.
Chief Minister Siddharamaiah had set aside Rs. 50 crore for the project and Karnataka will be among the first to take up a Wi-Fi project at the Gram Panchayat level. The authorities have been testing Wi-Fi at 11 Gram Panchayats in Mysuru, Gadag and Kalaburagi districts from November 2016 and the response has been good and people are ready to accept it, said Minister for Information Technology and Tourism Priyank Kharge.
The project is being implemented by the State-run Keonics along with BSNL. “There is already a skeletal network due to the Bapuji Kendras and e-governance kiosks at the Gram Panchayats. We are enhancing that and will complete the broadband facility for the 2,500 Gram Panchayats,” Kharge outlined. There are also plans to provide Wi-Fi in schools and colleges nearby and even homes, if people want it.
The project would ensure the successful roll-out of e-governance projects of the government. In addition, various government departments and agencies can use this network to provide public services to the citizens who can avail them. Information related to agriculture, weather, market etc. would be online. Applications in tele-medicines, tele-education, e-commerce, e-banking etc. would be within the reach of citizens.
Kharge also said that the future strategy of the Wi-Fi project will be decided after analysing usage patterns from the three-month pilot test.
“We have also signed up with BSNL to give last mile connectivity to any entrepreneur or to any NGO or any educational institutions, whenever they require it,” Kharge added.
He also clarified that the Wi-Fi project is a fully government funded project as of now, although the government is open to private partnerships as well in future. With more than 90% of the State’s villages covered under the Bharatnet programme of the State-owned BSNL, providing Wi-Fi services to the villages did not pose much of a challenge, officials said.
Wi-Fi services will be provided up to a range of 1 kilometre from the Gram Panchayat office. Villagers can browse the internet at high speeds for the first 100 MB after which there would be a speed reduction or a fee. Connectivity to rural areas will propel mobile connectivity and services like m-commerce, m-banking etc.
Land for betel leaves growers
The State Cabinet has also decided to sanction land for betel leaves growers at Sewage Farm in Mysuru. Over 245 betel leaves growers will be sanctioned 5 guntas each and over 30.25 acres of land will be released.
The Cabinet has given administrative approval to revise the allocation to construct Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Bhavan in Mysuru to Rs. 20 crore.