Govt announces major schemes: PM-WANI, data centres, Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana, data connectivity
As COVID-19 has necessitated the adoption of the virtual world, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made major announcements on Wi-Fi connectivity, submarine optical fibre, 4G coverage in Arunachal Pradesh, and employment scheme.
In a press briefing, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced that the Union Cabinet has taken a decision to launch PM-WANI — Wi-fi access network interface — to unleash a massive wi-fi network in the country. The minister also announced that the government will set up public data centers across the country and there will be no license, fee or registration for it. The Public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface will be known as PM-WANI.
The minister also said that the proposal will promote growth of public Wi-Fi networks in the country, and that businesses can take services from Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, or any such internet service provider (ISP) and use their physical location to provide Wi-Fi to anyone who happens to be nearby.
In an official release, it said, "The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the proposal of DoT for setting up of Public Wi-Fi Networks by Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs) to provide public Wi-Fi service through Public Data Offices (PDOs) spread across length and breadth of the country to accelerate proliferation of Broadband Internet services through Public Wi-Fi network in the country."
The proliferation of public Wi-Fi will not only create employment but also enhance disposable incomes in the hands of small and medium entrepreneurs and boost the GDP of the country, the statement added.
Submarine Optical Fibre Cable
Ravi Shankar Prasad also announced that the Union Cabinet has given its approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity between mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project). The project envisages provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) between Kochi and 11 Islands of Lakshadweep viz Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Agati, Amini, Androth, Minicoy, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kiltan, and Kadmat.
Since telecommunication connectivity plays vital role in employment generation, the present approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity will vastly improve telecommunication facility in the Lakshadweep Islands by providing large bandwidth. The minister said that the submarine connectivity project will have vital role for delivery of e-Governance services at the doorstep of citizens, potential development of fisheries, coconut-based industries, high-value tourism, and educational development in term of tele-education and in healthcare in terms of telemedicine facilities.
It will help in establishment of numerous businesses, augment ecommerce activities, and provide adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing. "The Lakshadweep Islands have the potential to become a hub of logistic services," reads the official press statement. The statement further reads the project is targeted to be completed by May 2023.
Union Minister for Electronics and IT, Law and Justice and Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad
Arunachal Pradesh 4G connectivity
The Union Cabinet has also given its approval for provision of a Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) Scheme for providing mobile coverage in Arunachal Pradesh and two Districts of Assam, namely Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, under the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP) for North Eastern Region (NER). The project envisages to provide mobile coverage to 2,374 uncovered villages (1,683 in Arunachal Pradesh and 691 in two districts of Assam) at an estimated cost of implementation about Rs 2,029 crore, including operational expenses for five years. The project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund and is targeted to be completed by December, 2022.
Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana
Besides this, Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar also announced that Union Cabinet has approved employment generation scheme Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana, which aims to create more formal jobs, to benefit around 58.5 lakh employees. The government said that the scheme's expenditure is of Rs 1,584 crore for the current financial year and Rs 22,810 crores for the entire scheme period i.e. 2020-2023.
Under the programme, the Centre will reimburse 24 percent — 12 percent each for employees and employers — for two years for all new formal jobs created in enterprises having up to 1,000 employees between October 1 and till June 30 next year. In organisation where employee strength is more than 1,000 workers, the reimbursement will be restricted to 12 percent of the employees contribution.
An employee drawing monthly wage of less than Rs 15,000 who was not working in any establishment registered with the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) before October 1, 2020 and did not have a Universal Account Number or EPF Member account number prior to October 1, 2020 will be eligible for the benefit. The EPFO will credit the contribution in Aadhaar-seeded account of members in electronic manner, and is also planning to develop a software for the scheme and also develop a procedure which is transparent and accountable at their end.