Odisha government demands internet facility in all GPs

Published: 09th December 2016 09:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th December 2016 09:50 PM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: The state government today demanded that the Centre should ensure that the Bharat Broadband Nigam Limited (BBNL) acclerated the project to connect all the gram panchayats (GPs) in the state with internet facility.

The meeting of the committee of chief ministers to examine measures to implement digital payment system was held via video conference today. On behalf of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, chief secretary AP Padhi, additional chief secretary to chief minister UN Behera, development commissioner R Balakrishnan and senior officials attended.

Stating that telecom connectivity in Odisha is still very inadequate, the chief secretary said one third of the
villages are not covered under mobile connectivity. Only less than 2000 GPs out of 6238 have wireline broadband service, he said and added that under the ongoing Bharat Net Project, so far about 350 GPs have been enabled with high speed internet facility.

The chief secretary said since digital payment infrastructure at present is extremely weak, especially in semi-urban and rural areas, there is an urgent need for the Centre to ensure that BBNL accelerated the project to connect the remaining GPs as early as possible.

The Odisha government suggested that all card payments should be made free of cost even beyond December 31, 2016. Service tax on digital transactions upto Rs 10,000 should be exempted, the chief
secretary said and added all government payment gateways should be made bank neutral.

The chief secretary said point of sale (POS) machines should be supplied free of cost to government departments, local bodies and other agencies. Inter-operability and security aspects of e-wallet transactions should be ensured by the RBI, Padhi said and added that National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), Electronic Clearing Service (ECS) and Real-time gross settlement (RTGS) modes of electronic payments should be made possible round the clock.

Besides, the chief secretary said there should be a massive programme for opening brick and mortar bank branches in Odisha as 70 percent of the GPs do not have bank branches. One third of the GPs even
do not have a banking correspondent, he said.

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