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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Tuesday set a target to provide high-speed internet connectivity to all 6,798 panchayats in the State by April next year, officials said.

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary AK Tripathy, they said.

Reviewing the progress made so far, he directed the Electronics and Information Technology (E&IT) Department to expedite the implementation of Phase-II of the BharatNet programme and provide connectivity to all gram panchayats by April 2021.

"The digital infrastructure will be an enabler of growth and development in the state," Tripathy said.

He also directed that Wi-Fi connectivity should be given at the main activity points of the panchayats.

All government offices, including the schools, medical centres and banks, can also access the connectivity, he said.

Each panchayat would have five connection points for utilisation by institutions and government offices, Tripathy said.

The main commercial place of the panchayats would get a Wi-Fi connection. The telemedicine centers, schools and agriculture kiosks would be connected for facilitating healthcare, e-learning and agri-commerce, he said.

Development Commissioner SC Mohapatra suggested the department to put in place a system for regular maintenance and upkeep of the infrastructure, including the cables, for ensuring uninterrupted connectivity.

"So far, 22,541 km of optical fiber cable has been laid against the target of 27,610 km. The rest 5,069 km of cable-laying work will be completed soon," said E&IT secretary M Mishra.

Till date, 4,651 panchayats and 230 blocks have been provided connectivity and the remaining ones will be linked in phases, he said.

The meeting also decided to formulate an SPV (special purpose vehicle) involving the departments of Energy, E&IT and Panchayati Raj for productive utilisation of the digital infrastructure created in the state.

The chief secretary also directed officials to work out a viable business plan with self-sustaining models for the SPV.

(PTI)

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