The UPA has finalized its Rs 7,000 crore scheme Har Hath Mein Phone (a phone in ever hand), which aims at giving a mobile phone to each family living below the poverty line. The scheme will be announced by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on 15 August and is being seen as one among the steps taken by the UPA government to woo the people ahead of the crucial 2014 elections. The government is of the view that the scheme will open up the possibility of having direct communication with a sizable population of India.
Sources related to the PMO has said that mobile phones will be distributed to as many as 6 million BPL households. An additional benefit of 200 minutes of free local talk time will also be provided. The scheme is estimated to incur a monthly expense of Rs 100 per phone, with the government exploring the possibility procuring service charges in a subsidized rate via competitive bidding. The telecom department’s Universal Service Obligation funds will source the project with 50% of the cost likely to come from the bidder. The right to provide service will be with the bidder.
The PMO is looking into the matter personally, with the Ministry of Planning Commission and Telecom adding finishing touches for the scheme. Another scheme which is in the pipeline under Sam Pitroda, adviser to the Prime Minister aims to link 2,50,000 panchayats of the country in a span of 16 months through internet.
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