The Union Government on June 11, 2018 launched 5,000 Wi-Fi Choupals in villages and delivery of rail tickets through Common Service Centres (CSCs).
The service was inaugurated by Union Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal in New Delhi.
Aim: The move is aimed at transforming rural internet connectivity through BharatNet. It will provide 60,000 WiFi hotspots in rural areas.
• The WiFi Choupals will enable people in rural areas with an effective internet access for their various digital processes.
• The target is to have Wi-Fi choupals in all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by offering last-mile connectivity.
• This is in addition to the laying of optical fibre network under BharatNet, which is connecting 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through broadband.
• Both the projects are part of an ambitious plan of connecting India digitally.
• Till now, about 7-8 villages have been connected digitally through a set of WiFi hotspots.
The Common Service Centres (CSCs) have signed an agreement with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for train ticket bookings.
Under the agreement, all 2.9 lakh common service centres (CSC) will be able to book both reserved and unreserved train tickets.
With this development, all 2.9 lakh CSCs will be connected with technology for railway ticket booking.
• There will be no limit on number of tickets that can be booked from a CSC.
• The money will be deducted from the account of the village level entrepreneur (VLE).
• The person will get a commission of Rs 10 per ticket.
• The bookings of the unreserved ticket will start in about a month.
Besides this, Railway Minister Goyal also accepted the proposal of CSC e-Governance to allow all CSCs to operate as banking correspondents and also proposed to disburse 'Mudra Loan' through CSCs. The Minister also stated that giving loan is a task for great responsibility and the VLE will have to be vigilant to check misuse of loan disbursed through him/her.
Goyal also proposed the opening of CSC at 8,000 railway stations where they can provide all their services besides telemedicine and education.
• The launch of Wi-Fi hotspots under BharatNet has seen 190 per cent jump in data usage to 95 terabyte in six months of the service.
• While the first half of last 12 months saw a data consumption of around 33 TB, the second half witnessed a consumption of around 95 TB.
• Broadband internet is currently available in 7,183 gram panchayats.
About Common Service Centres
• The centres, which are an important part of the government's Digital India initiative, function as access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages including passport and Aadhaar enrollment.
• The centres are positioned as change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods.
• Till now, the centres have been set up in 1.8 lakh gram panchayats and will be extended to 2.50 lakh gram panchayats by the end of 2018.
• Overall, as many as 2.91 CSCs operate in the country currently.
• Under the Digital India programme, at least one CSC (preferably more than one) is envisaged in 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats for delivery of various electronic services to citizens across rural India.
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