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.
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 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 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.
Some other major announcements from the Kerala Govt. include:
- 12 hardware manufacturing parks would be established in the state, to make Kerala a hub of IT and ITeS niches
- Japanese-Korean industrial cluster would be established at Mavoor
- Rs 549 crore allocated for the creation of IT parks, Technoparks, SEZs, Infoparks, Cyberparks and Techno-Lodges
- Kerala State Govt. will provide financial help and mentorship to 1500 startups from the state
This year, Kerala Govt. created a new benchmark for other states, when they saved Rs 300 crore by using Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) in all schools in the state.