Aiming to make the Northeastern states of the country digitally empowered, the government plans to invest close to Rs 100 billion (Rs 97.61 billion to be specific) by 2022 on 415 projects in the region. The investments will go towards telecom infrastructure, BPOs, electronics manufacturing, digital payments, start-ups and cyber security.
This is part of the NDA government’s vision document for ‘Digital North East 2022’, which was unveiled at a mega event here on Saturday. The document refers to around 50 digital initiatives planned for each state in the region.
The objective is to provide high-speed broadband to all gram panchayats or equivalent local bodies through optical fibre, apart from ensuring mobile phone connectivity to all villages. The other goals include adoption of common service centers, providing better access to quality health, educational and agricultural services through use of digital technologies.
While the National Informatics Centre (NIC) will set up a regional data centre with cloud infrastructure in Guwahati, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will accelerate the implementation of BharatNet project in the region.
Of the total investment planned for the digital initiative, a major chunk — more than Rs 78 billion — will come from the DoT. The Ministry of Electronics and IT will fund projects to the tune of Rs 14 billion, while the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region will spend more than Rs 4 billion. Another Rs 530 million is expected from the Home Ministry. Also, private sector investment is pegged at Rs 700 million.
"This is the first time that the central government has conducted an in-depth analysis of the strength and weaknesses of the states in the Northeast before finalising a comprehensive investment programme," Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The Minister added that NDA government is working to realise the party's dream of creating a ‘New India’, which is truly inclusive. The Minister said the Centre's role was to ensure that all people, irrespective of region and race had equal opportunities and were equally benefited from the development initiatives of the government.
The event saw participation from all north-eastern states including chief ministers of Assam and Tripura.
With this mission in place, the government will work to accord a major thrust on electronics manufacturing through special incentives, Prasad said. In fact, an electronics manufacturing cluster has been inaugurated in Guwahati with a potential to create 8,000 jobs. Simultaneously, the government has doubled the seats for BPOs in the region to 10,000 from 5,000 earlier.
"The idea is to leverage digital technologies to transform the lives of the people here and ensure inclusive and sustainable growth," Prasad said.