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Internet facilities in U’khand’s border villages to boost tourism, curb forced migration

To give a boost to high-end tourism in the scenic spots dotting Uttarakhand’s hilly landscape, the government will soon launch a scheme, under which 128 trekking routes and nearby mountain villages will be provided internet connectivity

dehradun Updated: May 20, 2018 22:01 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Of the six districts where the project will be launched, four are along India’s international borders with China and Nepal.(Getty Images)

To give a boost to high-end tourism in the scenic spots dotting Uttarakhand’s hilly landscape, the government will soon launch a scheme, under which 128 trekking routes and nearby mountain villages will be provided internet connectivity.

Of the six districts where the project will be launched, four are along India’s international borders with China and Nepal.

The six districts are Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar and Champavat. Barring Bageshwar and Rudraprayag, the rest are border districts.

“Under the project, the 128 trekking routes in those six hill districts will be provided the WI-FI facility whereas people in all nearby villages will get internet connections,” said Amit Sinha director, Information Technology Development Agency (ITDA).

He added that the twin online facilities will help serve several key objectives.

The initiative, he said, will help boost the high end tourism in the scenic but remote hilly areas giving a fillip to the locals’ income.

“Besides, the internet connectivity to be provided to remote villages will open a number of self-employment opportunities like the online trading for the local youth,” Sinha said.

“The boost in the economy of the people in remote areas will help check forced migration from the hills, which would be the biggest advantage of that scheme,” he said in an interview to HT.

The online facility will also “double up” as a lifeline for the locals as well as tourists and trekkers visiting the remote hilly areas during emergency situations like natural disasters.

“The mountain state owing to its geological volatility is vulnerable to natural calamities like earthquakes, flash floods and landslides,” Sinha said.

“During such emergencies occurring in remote areas tourists often land in serious situations as they are not able to contact the agencies concerned for help in absence of the dependable communication facilities like Wi-Fi and internet.”

The Wi-Fi and internet connectivity to be provided in the remote hilly areas along the trekking routes will help bridge that gap.

“The online facilities will fill that difference as they will come in handy to tourists and the locals in emergency situations as they will be solar powered,” Sinha said, adding that the equipment fitted atop towers will propel the Wi-Fi and internet connectivity.

“The equipment will be kept in rugged casings so that they will remain unaffected by natural calamities and continue to propel the online facility”

The internet connectivity, he said, would give a boost to tourism in remote villages benefiting the locals besides opening up several self employment opportunities for the youth.

“That’s what we observed at Ghesh, a remote border village in Chamoli in the past about four months after its residents were provided the internet connections in March,” Sinha said.

The online facility would help give a boost to tourism, especially homestay tourism in remote villages, which would soon be provided the internet facility.

“We are planning to create separate portals for each household so that people in those remote villages could upload on their websites the homestay facilities they will provide,” he said.

“Tourists will be able to easily access those facilities besides getting their houses booked for homestays.”

For the local youth, the official clarified, the facility will “open the floodgates” of self-employment opportunities through common service centres equipped with online facilities to be set up in the remote areas.

“Through these centres the local youth may earn money by getting railway and air tickets booked for tourists or by facilitating online delivery of various documents like birth and death certificates to the locals.”

The online facility would also help keep them updated on the happenings around the world, which would add to their knowledge.

“Thanks to online facilities, they will also be able to access timely information about various government jobs and apply for them,” Sinha said.

“Besides, they can access online, the study material they need to prepare for various written tests and interviews they need to clear to land jobs.”

First Published: May 20, 2018 22:01 IST