December 14, 2016 4:00:40 am
Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Tuesday suggested that Jharkhand should take a leaf out of Andhra Pradesh’ book by utilising electric poles in the state for deeper internet connectivity, as part of its ambitious programme of ‘Mission Cashless Jharkhand’. While lauding the efforts of the state in this direction so far, Kant also asked the state government to focus on two crucial sectors: education and health.
Kant held a review meeting on the programmes started for making Jharkhand shift to cashless transactions in a short time with top officials of most departments here. Citing the example of Andra Pradesh, which has used electric poles to take the optical fibre in far-off areas, Kant said that the Centre was ready to support the state if such a plan was initiated. He lauded the fact that nearly 95 per cent of Jharkhand’s population now had Aadhar seeding. He said the next step should be to link them quickly with the bank accounts.
With internet connectivity being a major issue, the state government informed that wi-fi devices on at least 793 mobile phone towers were in the process of being installed. The state government also informed that so far, it has begun providing food in PDS shops through point-of-sales (PoS) machines in 20,000 out of 23,000 outlets. Out of 68 lakh families, at least 53 lakh had their seeding with the PDS outlets. By next year, all the outlets would begin using PoS for rations. Further, all scholarships, pension, MNREGA payments etc. are being done through the direct benefit transfer (DBT). Kant asked the officials to upgrade the PDS outlets with banking correspondent services, so that people coming to take rations can make use of it for their cash transactions.
Also, Kant asked for the Pragya Kendra (common services centres) to be upgraded and activated for providing more services to the common people, including services related to banking. He also asked the state government not to focus on ‘input-based’ evaluation system for the crucial sectors of health and education. Rather, the state should shift to ‘outcome-based’ appraisal of the services in these two sectors.
Meanwhile, the state government also informed the CEO that all the 800 petrol pumps in the state have been providing with swipe machines; 1,400 panchayats out of 4,400 have been linked with optic fibre-based internet connectivity; at least 75 per cent bank accounts have been linked to Aadhar, which is now available for 95 per cent of the population. Kant said this was a major achievement to start with.
In order to make maximum possible people aware and to encourage them in using cashless transactions, the government has roped in the Jharkhand police, university students, officials, anganwadi workers and panchayat sevaks etc.
The state government informed the Niti Aayog that 55,000-strong Jharkhand police personnel are being trained in using cashless transactions. “They, in turn, are supposed to train and encourage other civilians to download mobile banking applications and use the same in their daily transactions,” said a senior official. Several workshops are being held across the state for the same. Together with personnel from the central para-military forces, deployed in the state to fight left-wing extremism (LWE), the official said, the number swells up to around two lakh. They are supposed to train and encourage at least five people, whom they deal or meet with on a regular basis, especially small shopkeepers, to use cashless modes of transactions.
Besides, five lakh students from universities and colleges are also being trained by the higher education department to learn to use these modes and also train five others. At least 50,000 health workers, anganwadi workers and sahiyas (or ANMs) etc. too are being roped in the same manner, the official said.
Recorded and text messages from Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das are also being relayed through mobile calls and SMS to spread the message.
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