Shillong, June 19 (IANS): The Central government has decided to upgrade telecommunications facilities in insurgency-hit and border areas in India's northeastern States with a focus on all-round economic development of the region.
"A core IT (Information and Technology) infrastructure has been established in all the states for a smooth roll out of the delivery of citizen-centric services," Minister of State for Communication and Technology Sachin Pilot said here on Monday.
Pilot reviewed the progress of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) schemes, telecommunication and postal services in the region.
The meeting was attended by IT ministers from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura, besides chief secretaries and IT secretaries from the region and senior central government officials.
Pilot said the union cabinet recently sanctioned a Rs.388 crore special package for northeast to impart affordable ICT training to youths in the region, and, of the total sanctioned amount, Rs.63.35 crore would be spent this year.
Saying that the project would help train 14,000 youths per year, the minister hoped it would ensure the availability of trained professionals in the region to attract IT Industry to set up their units there.
The National Institute of E-Learning and Information Technology (NIELIT) will implement the project by upgrading the six existing NIELIT centres located at Imphal (Manipur), Aizawl (Mizoram), Guwahati (Assam), Shillong (Meghalaya), Gangtok (Sikkim) and Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Pilot said.
Ten new extension centres would also be set up at Senapati and Churachandpur in Manipur; Dibrugarh, Silchar, Jorhat and Kokrajhar in Assam; Lunglei in Mizoram; Tura in Meghalaya; Tezu and Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh.
The two existing extension centres located at Chuchuyimlang in Nagaland and Tezpur in Assam will be upgraded.
Pilot also reviewed the implementation of central government's flagship scheme National e-Governance Plan and directed all agencies involved in it to resolve the pending issues.
The total expenditure planned for the northeastern states is about Rs.243 crore this year, of which Rs.190 crore would be spent on e-governance, the minister of state said. He requested the state governments to fully utilise this amount.
Pilot also unveiled a special training project for the government officials from all levels.
"A specific component of the funds, about Rs.1 crore, would be allocated for northeastern states. It is over and above the Rs.1.06 crore fund available for the region under the regular capacity building budget," he said.
Emphasising the importance of connectivity, Pilot said, "An ambitious plan in this regard is under consideration of the government and BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.) plans a capital expenditure of Rs.347 crore in the region," he said.
He said a special unit entrusted with execution of projects would be given Rs.142.93 crore, besides Rs.300 crore that would be spent on National Optical Fibre Network and other projects.
Pilot also announced 50 more post offices for the region under the Department of Post's prestigious Project Arrow.