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Chhattisgarh: Government's 'SKY' scheme creates fear among mobile phone vendors

The chief minister Raman Singh on Monday will begin the statewide launch of the 'Sanchar Kranti Yojana' scheme from Raipur.

Published: 29th July 2018 11:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th July 2018 11:35 PM   |  A+A-

Smartphone, Iphone, Technology

File photo for Representational Purposes.

Express News Service

RAIPUR: Sonal Dewangan (20) has postponed buying a new mobile phone on her birthday last month. Sarita Sahu (48) a housewife decides not to get herself upgraded from using feature phone to a smartphone and prefers to wait. In Chhattisgarh there are thousands like Sonal and Sarita, in rural and semi-urban areas, having delayed their choices for months on purchasing new smartphone handsets. The reason behind their eager anticipation is the Chhattisgarh government's ambitious scheme -- 'Sanchar Kranti Yojana' (SKY) that aims to distribute 5.5 million smartphones free to women in rural areas, students and urban poor apparently in an attempt to bridge the digital divide. The chief minister Raman Singh on Monday will begin the statewide launch of the scheme from Raipur. In the recently concluded monsoon session of the Assembly, the state government has earmarked a provision of Rs 5.2 billion under the 2018-19 state budgetary outlay for the scheme.

However, the scheme has brought little cheers for the mobile phone vendors across the state. In Chhattisgarh where the mobile penetration remains as low as 30 percent, the rural and semi-urban areas happen to be the emerging markets for the retailers.

"We understand such scheme will lead to digital revolution but around 17000 mobile phone retailers in the state are much apprehensive as they fear their business for smaller brands that sell feature phones and lower-end smartphones would be badly affected by the government scheme", Rajesh Waswani, president of Chhattisgarh Mobile Association told the Express.

According to him, the government's scheme might not much affect the urban areas where the consumers usually go for high-end smartphones. With Chhattisgarh where nearly two-third of its area have the connectivity there is an immense scope for telecom users in the rural and semi-urban areas.

"In such areas with gradual reach of smartphones, rising aspirations and growing people's earnings, there remain huge potential for affordable handsets. But the government scheme will surely affect our sale as large section of our targeted customers would be the SKY beneficiaries", asserted Idris Gandhi, mobile phone dealer.

"The retail vendors are anxious as they perceive the scheme to affect their livelihood for at least a year and half. So the government should think of offering some relief package to compensate their losses", Waswani averred. The officials nevertheless cited that despite the scheme the Chhattisgarh will still offer huge opportunity since the mobile phone user density is little over 30 percent. In an election year the opposition Congress gets suspicious about the government's intent.

"It's an attempt to lure the voters. The beneficiaries have been asked to furnish details of their family members on a prescribed format along with their Aadhar numbers. Why?", asked Mohammed Akbar, AICC member and Congress spokesperson. Former chief minister Ajit Jogi too has demanded from the election commission to prevent the ruling party to distribute the mobile phones. Each mobile handset distributed under the scheme SKY, which is likely to continue till April-May 2019, comes with a 100 minutes call and 1 GB data free valid for six months. 



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  • faleshwar sahu

    student log ko mobil batna kb stat hoga sir
    3 years ago reply
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