With an eye on improving rural mobile telephony, the Planning Commission is mulling the option of providing free mobile phones to 6.52 lakh families living below poverty line.
“We are exploring that possibility. We are working on an idea. The basic idea is that in the rural areas, we need to incentivize access to mobile telephony,” Plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on Wednesday.
A scheme to provide free mobile phones is expected to be announced during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech from the Red Fort on August 15.
Though barely a week is left before the Prime Minister delivers his Independence Day speech, Ahluwalia said the scheme was yet to be approved and a small group of officials was still working on it.
The UPA government will have to spend more than Rs 7,000 crore on this scheme which is also being widely seen as a sop for rural India ahead of the 2014 general elections.
The 6.52 crore BPL families will also get free talk time of about 200 minutes.