55 villages to get broadband connectivity: Pitroda

Fifty-five village panchayats will hop-on the information super highway in the next few weeks.

New Delhi: Fifty-five village panchayats will hop-on the information super highway in the next few weeks as part of an ambitious UPA-II initiative to connect 2.5 lakh local government bodies through broadband.

This was disclosed by Sam Pitroda, Advisor to Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations at a conference -- `Decade of Innovation: India @ Year 2` -- organised here by the Department of Science and Technology and CII.

He said connecting 55 villages through broadband in four states including in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh was part of a pilot project of a larger initiative to create a public information infrastructure which seeks to improve public delivery mechanism.

The project to link 2.5 lakh local government bodies through broadband would cost the national exchequer between USD six-seven billion.

"We expect this project to be operational in the next 18 months," Pitroda said.

The broadband connectivity to villages would help speed up public delivery services including issuance of birth and death certificates, depositing of pension in bank accounts, maintenance of land records, extension of agriculture-related services and healthcare benefits.

The next stage would be computerisation of all court, police and prison records as well as government files.

He said a part of the project, in the form of the National Knowledge Network, has already been operationalised and has connected universities, educational and research institution through high-speed networks.

The broadband connectivity for gram panchayats will help improving delivery of public services and getting real time feedback.

Besides, this will help in training of panchayat and other grassroots functionaries and empowering the community through e-library.

The government had approved the proposal to connect all 2,50,000 gram panchayats through optical fibre communication in October last year.