Indian Economy News

Digital India initiative: Government to connect 55,000 villages with phones by December 2016

New Delhi: The telecom department plans to take mobile network by December 2016 to nearly 10 per cent of Indian villages that are still unconnected, to make the government's ambitious Digital India programme more pervasive. Of the 6,00,000 villages in the country, about 55,000 are still awaiting mobile connectivity.

These villages fall primarily under the red corridor — a vast swathe affected by left-wing extremism — and in the Northeast. "In sync with PM Narendra Modi's vision, it has become imperative to offer digital services on mobile platform," telecom secretary Rakesh Garg said, speaking at the 'Good Governance Day' programme hosted by the Ministry of Communications and IT.

Under the Rs 1.13 lakh crore mega Digital India initiative, the government aims to connect every nook and corner of the country with broadband Internet, and deliver services electronically through mobile phones. The Trai had earlier in a study revealed major network gaps in the northeast region. Arunachal Pradesh had the highest coverage gap at nearly 56 per cent, followed by Meghalaya with 38 per cent, Mizoram with 32 per cent and Manipur 24 per cent.

In September this year, the Cabinet had approved spending of Rs 5,300 crore to install 6,673 telecom towers across 8,621 villages, primarily boosting telecom network along national highways in the Northeast.

"The department is setting up telecom towers in Northeast with a pecuniary budget of Rs 5,300 crore and additionally deploying 2,199 towers in left wing extremism affected areas," Garg said. Setting up mobile phone network in the Naxal-affected regions is one of the long-pending demands of the home ministry, which has recently asked the telecom department to fasttrack deployment. Garg said the work would be completed by the end of September 2015.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.