Guwahati, Dec. 8: The Assam government will tie up with RailTel Corporation of India for broadband Internet connectivity to expedite the financial inclusion of tea garden workers in remote areas.
The move was initiated after stock-taking meetings with banks, BSNL and other stakeholders revealed it was not possible to meet the December 5 deadline to open bank accounts of all workers spread over 800-plus tea estates and then make the transactions cashless by opening ATMs in the gardens.
The deadline for opening accounts under the Jan Dhan Yojana has now been pushed to December 15, the date fixed by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal to set up ATMs in all gardens.
State’s Commissioner and Secretary to Govt.of Assam, Finance Department Mr.Ravi Kota, one of the key officials coordinating the efforts to push the government’s twin agendas for financial and digital inclusion, told “We are tying up with RailTel for broadband Internet connectivity to touch remote tea gardens located close to railway stations so that we can achieve our target at the earliest.”
Kota said they have sought RailTel’s support for gardens located in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar and Golaghat districts.
“We have so far covered over 150 gardens and there has been good progress in others. We can achieve the target of opening bank accounts by December 15 and with RailTel and BSNL’s support we can resolve the Internet connectivity bit,” he said.
RailTel Corporation is a Miniratna PSU having a Pan-India optic fibre network along railway tracks, providing nationwide broadband telecom and multimedia network.
Assam tea tribes welfare minister Pallab Lochan Das said the state government was doing everything possible to expedite the process but was treading carefully so as not to create problems for either the “simple” garden workers or the service providers.
“We are on track and trying to expedite things. Over 75 per cent of the tea garden community has been covered by the banks. We are also assessing the connectivity part as most gardens are in remote areas. We are in talks with RailTel and other stakeholders but we also need to keep in mind that there are constraints which need to be tackled carefully,” Das said.
The minister said the government was trying to do something unprecedented. “Therefore, we are being extra careful. The move should not only be seen from the financial perspective. We feel once the tea community is digitally connected they will be empowered in more ways than one,” the minister said.