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Chhattisgarh CM to distribute smartphones to over 50 lakh people

Distribution of smartphones will start during Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh’s ‘Vikas Yatra’ campaign, months ahead of Assembly polls in the state.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2018 14:44 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh will start ‘Vikas Yatra’ campaign in May.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh will start ‘Vikas Yatra’ campaign in May.(HT File Photo)

Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh will start his “Vikas Yatra” from May 1, six months before the state assembly elections, and distribute 5 million mobile phones to women and college going students under the Sanchar Kranti Yojana (SKY) scheme, a dream project of the three-time CM.

According to officials in the chief minister’s office, in the first phase of the yatra, Singh will tour some of the important constituencies and inform people about his government’s welfare schemes. The second phase of the yatra will be launched in August based on the response of the first phase.

The first phase will also see the launch of the scheme in which mobile phones will be distributed. According to the government’s plan, 4.06 million smartphones will be given to women heading rural households, 5.60 lakh to women heads of urban poor households, and about four lakh to college students — both boys and girls.

The Chhattisgarh government plans to initiate smartphone distribution in May 2018 and complete it by the end of March 2019.

“SKY is a unique scheme with multiple benefits. Smartphones are arguably the most empowering tool today for socio-economic upliftment and since these phones will also be distributed to women, it will add to their empowerment. This scheme will be a game changer for rural people, particularly in Maoist-hit Bastar,” said Aman Singh, principal secretary, department of electronics & information technology.

The success of the scheme will depend on how the government improves mobile connectivity in the state hit by Maoist violence.

Singh said they have decided to provide necessary security for installation of towers in Maoist-affected areas. “This scheme is transformative — it is a big step towards financial inclusion, it will bridge digital divide in the state and also empower people to avail a wide range of government services from health to education, and security to justice,” said Singh.

The Congress is, however, claiming that the scheme is unethical and a political gimmick to save the government.

“There are 22.83 lakh unemployed youths who are registered in rozgaar karyalay (employment exchange). Instead of giving them employment, they are giving them smart phones. The youths should be made self-reliant by the government. Before last elections, the BJP government had distributed laptops and now they are doling out smart phones, which is unethical. Everyone in the state have understood the gimmick and BJP will suffer in the elections,” said Sailesh Nitin Trivedi, a Chhattisgarh Congress leader.