The country's first free-of-cost open-source cyber café opened on Saturday at Nai Abadi in Fazilka. The Graduates Welfare Association of Fazilka (GWAF), which is behind the initiative, aims at promoting the use of the Internet in suburbs and make it accessible to all.
"Only 15% of Fazilka's urban population is Internet-connected," said Navdeep Asija, general secretary of the GWAF. "The technology's penetration and use is limited because of distant cyber cafés, the high cost of browsing, and Internet illiteracy."
The new Internet centre is on the premises of Dost Model Middle School, near gurdwara and close to maximum localities (Dhingra Colony, Basti Chandora, Teachers Colony, and Nai Abadi). Because the centre is in Nai Abadi, it has been named Cyber Abadi.
Girl students, housewives, senior citizens, and Ecocab drivers and their families will browse the Internet free-of-cost at the centre, while the others will pay a subsidised rate. "Retired captain MS Bedi has volunteered to bear the initial and monthly Internet expenses," said Asija. "The centre will run free-of-cost computer courses and other relevant information technology awareness campaigns."
"Depending upon the citizen's response, we'll create similar centres in other localities of Fazilka as well," said Dr Rajneesh Kamra, in charge of the GWAF's Project Education. At the cyber café, the use of open-source software and freeware will be encouraged and piracy discouraged. Technical inputs for the project have come from SVIMTECH, PULPRIX, and Thakral Infosystems.
Do your bit, junk your e-waste at centre
The country's first free-of-cost cyber café needs your e-waste. Awareness campaigns are on to motivate citizens to donate used computers, peripheral devices (mouse, keyboard, mother board, monitors etc.), and cabinets to the centre.
After repair and upgrade, the units will be installed at various localities in Fazilka. "It will be an alternative way of e-waste management as well," said Gautam Choudhary, in charge of the IT wing of the GWAF.