Kerala becomes 1st state to declare Internet as basic right; announces free wifi for 20 lakh citizens

14th Mar 2017
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Nowadays, internet has become as basic a necessity as any other commodity. Keeping up with the changing times, the Kerala government has announced an initiative in this budget to provide free internet connections to 20 lakh citizens. This was announced by Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac in the budget session for 2017-2018 on March 3, 2017.

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Internet access was declared a basic right like water, food, and education for every citizen of Kerala. In this, Kerala has taken a step in the direction provided by the UN. The Finance Minister told Economic Times,

Internet will now become a right for the people, and within 18 months, the internet gateway will be set up through the K phone network at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore.

The government has already done some planning to ensure that concrete actions are taken in this regard. As per the plan, the government wants to give free internet access to 20 lakh citizens and also extend the broadband connectivity to almost every house in the state. The project is being called K-Fon, and the plan is to lay out optical fibre cables parallel to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) lines all across the state.

The Secretary of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, M. Sivasankar, told Times of India,

The government’s idea will be to deliver internet connectivity with a limited bandwidth to individual households through an optic fibre network to be established parallel to the distribution network of the KSEB.

The project is expected to be completed in 18 months, and it has been allocated a sum of Rs 1,000 crore. The project aims to ensure free internet access using WiFi hotspots at Akshaya centres, Janasevana Kendras, government offices, libraries, and public places.

Kerala is the state with the highest literacy rate, and the government has understood and recognised the importance of internet access in times when everything, including governance, is going digital. This step will hopefully draw the attention of others towards the digital policies of India.

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