There are 25,067 villages in India that lack mobile and internet connectivity, as per Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s written reply in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, 17 March.
Prasad, the Minister for Electronics, IT and Communication answered a question by MLAs Rahul Ramesh Shewale and Hemant Sriram Patil, who enquired on the state-wise data of the number of villages in rural areas, as well as areas affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), which are yet to be connected with mobile and internet services.
Prasad said he had directed Telecom Service Providers to collect village-wise data and submit to his department after which the government noted that:
“From the said data, it is estimated that out of 5,97,618 inhabited villages in the country, as per Census-2011, 5,72,551 villages have been provided with mobile and internet connectivity,” implying that there are 25,067 villages who don’t have access to mobile and internet connectivity.
Areas Most And Least Covered
- Odisha has the most villages, which are not covered. Out of the 47,677 villages in Odisha, 41,578 have mobile connectivity, leaving 6.099 villages devoid of digital access.
- Madhya Pradesh comes second for least connected, where out of 51,929 of its villages, 49,317 have mobile connectivity and 2,612 villages do not.
- Maharashtra is a close third for being least connected, with 2,328 villages cut off from mobile connectivity. Out of 40,959 villages, 38,631 villages have a connection.
- Whilst Odisha has the most number of villages that do not have access to mobile connectivity, 42.2 percent of Arunachal’s villages are devoid of a connection, making it the state with the highest percentage of no coverage. Of it’s 5,258 villages, 3,035 have mobile connectivity, leaving out 2,223 villages without a connection.
- All of Punjab’s 12,168 villages, Puducherry’s 90 villages, Delhi’s 103 villages and all 84 of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu villages are connected.
Prasad then observed that, “As per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), 90 districts falling under 11 states are affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE). In these 90 districts, 85,894 villages are having mobile and internet services out of total number of 96,794 inhabited villages (as per Census2011),” which means that 10,900 villages do not have mobile and internet connectivity.
Schemes by the Centre
The question posed to Prasad also enquired on government schemes implemented to ensure better coverage, and the impact and cost assessment for the same.
Prasad’s reply reiterated that the Government is providing mobile and internet services in rural areas and areas affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in the country through various schemes approved under Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), namely:
- LWE-Phase-I and Phase-II projects
- Aspirational districts’ scheme
- Border Area Villages’ scheme, commissioning of submarine Optical Fibre Cable connectivity from Chennai to Andaman Nicobar Islands
- Scheme for connecting submarine Optical Fibre Cable from Kochi to Lakshadweep Islands
- BharatNet Phase-I and Phase-II projects