Ambitious Sanchar Kranti Yojana to be funded from State Budget

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Feb 2018 11:59:15

Staff Reporter

In a major announcement having far-reaching political ramifications, Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh, on Sunday, announced that the ambitious ‘Chhattisgarh Sanchar Kranti Yojana’ (CG-SKY) will be implemented from the allocations generated from the state budget.
Earlier, the State Government had decided to implement the scheme with the help of allocations made under 14th Finance Commission.

This announcement by the Chief Minister on the eve of commencement of Budget Session, has snatched a major issue from the opposition, which was planning a major onslaught during the Budget Session on the government on this issue.

The announcement was made by the Chief Minister during interaction with a delegation of Sarpanch and Panchs who had paid a courtesy call on the Chief Minister at his official residence on Sunday. It is worth mentioning here that the 14th Finance Commission had allocated Rs 600 crore to the State Government which was intended to be used by respective village panchayats for the development of villages. However, through an order issued by the Panchayat and Rural Development Department, the said allocations was diverted for usage in the implementation of SKY scheme, thus creating a political upheaval with every opposition party opposing the decision. Resentment was also seen among the village panchayats, as it would have affected their development process.

However, during meeting with the panchayat representatives on Sunday, the Sarpanchs and other representatives urged the Chief Minister not to use 14th Finance Commission allocations for SKY scheme.
Taking into consideration the demands made by the panchayat representatives, the Chief Minister announced that the 14th Finance Commission allocations, which amounted to Rs 600 crore will not be used in SKY scheme and that the amount will be returned to gram panchayats within next 15 days.

Government of Chhattisgarh had announced ‘Chhattisgarh Sanchar Kranti Yojana’ (CG-SKY), an ambitious endeavor for improving telecom connectivity across Chhattisgarh. CG-SKY aims to bring in a digital revolution in the state by making smart phones a reality in the remote areas. The State Government is slated to invest more than Rs 1100 crore in two phases which will change the lives of citizens living in remote regions.

Under the Sanchar Kranti Yojana (SKY), over 55 lakh smart phones will be distributed to all rural families, urban poor families and students in two phases. The scheme has been floated by the State Governmen with an objective to bridge the digital gap between rural and urban Chhattisgarh.

In order to augment telecom connectivity, 1400 mobile towers are being erected in far flung areas and difficult terrains including areas in LWE affected zones in Bastar region. For the establishment of these mobile towers, the state government had intended to use the allocations which came under 14th Finance Commission, but on Sunday the CM decided otherwise and announced that funding will be done from state budget. Now this allocation will be used for enhancing basic amenities in villages. The beneficiaries to whom mobile phones will be distributed, it would have pre-allotted mobile number which would be linked with Aadhar and beneficiaries’ bank account. The beneficiaries will also be provided with some free mobile data and calling minutes valid for one year.

The smart phone will have in-built customised platform to host relevant e-Gov mobile applications. The applications will provide informational services, transactional services, financial services, facilitate feedback and emergency response. As per Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011, Chhattisgarh has the lowest mobile penetration in India at 29 percent while the country average is 72 percent. The poor connectivity in Chhattisgarh is attributable to a unique combination of factors which include 44 % forest cover, very low population density, and a difficult terrain particularly in Surguja in the North and Bastar in the South which made network augmentation an economically unviable situation for the telecom service providers. The Sanchar Kranti Yojana is expected to bring a wide range of benefits to the citizens and for society. The scheme which is one of its kinds in the country, will have cascading effects on the society at large