The launch of the BharatNet project which is to provide broadband connectivity in all panchayats in Tamil Nadu is in active progress and expected to cover the rural areas by next year, State Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan said here on Tuesday.
The Minister for Information Technology and Digital Services, in Chief Minister M K Stalin’s cabinet, said some tier II cities in the state, were fortunate to have better internet service and the vision of the government is to provide internet connectivity at a speed of 100 megabits per second in the rural areas.
‘Our launch of the BharatNet project as you may know, is substantially behind other states because of some legacy problem which we inherited from our predecessor government, relating to tenders like that. Anyway, now it is in active progress but not as quickly as I like. But our vision is that by this time of next year, we should have fibre-based 100 MBPS internet connectivity covering all our panchayats in Tamil Nadu, ‘ he said.
Rajan was speaking at the inaugural of CONNECT 2023 programme organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in partnership with the Government of Tamil Nadu on the theme ‘Tech for tomorrow.’ According to the Information Technology and Digital Services Department, the BharatNet project has been approved by the Government at an outlay of Rs 1,230.90 crore.
The Phase II of the project aims to cover all the 12,524 village panchayats in Tamil Nadu with internet connectivity that will be utilized primarily for e-governance, telemedicine, and education.
Referring to the government’s recent launch of a comprehensive document on digital transformation strategy, Rajan said it would be first used as a ‘base’ within the government departments for faster processing of files.
Substantiating his point, Rajan recalled how a file, when he was holding the Finance portfolio, seeking to change the model of a car that had been prescribed for purchase by a government department got delayed by three months which he said should have been processed ‘instantaneously’.
‘Our focus on major initiatives will be on applications, cyber security, cloud computing and this will be a legacy of our time in office,’ he said.
Rajan stressed the most pressing concern for India and Tamil Nadu in particular was the ‘demographic dividend.’ ‘We will never get this boom of youth and so our primary objective here is to provide opportunities for both employment and entrepreneurship for the young people,’ he said.
Observing that Tamil Nadu was producing engineering graduates every year, he raised questions on whether the government was creating jobs for all those students who pass out of engineering college every year and do they have the relevant skills that the employers can actually benefit from.
Referring to a company that he inaugurated in Madurai some time ago, Rajan said that the company which initially had an employee base of 1,100 was now planning to increase it to 7,000 in the next two years.
‘These are the opportunities available and the government needs to step up and improve our role. Instead of generating 10,000 additional jobs a month in the Information Technology sector, we should be targeting 20,000 to 25,000 a month with our own efforts,’ he remarked. PTI