Now, 20 lakh poor can access the internet for free in Kerala after the state cabinet made the internet connection a basic citizen right, similar to water, food, and education. The path has now been cleared to provide internet access to every household in the state. It comes in line with the directions by the United Nations (UN), which believes every country must provide free internet access to every citizen so as to exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion. In March 2017, the budget of the most literate state in the country proposed a project aiming to provide internet free of cost to 20 lakh poor families and at subsidised rates to others.
“Internet connection made a basic citizen right. Kerala cabinet gives a final nod for ₹1548 crores Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON)Project to provide the Internet to every household in the state. For 20 lakh BPL households it will be free. The project to be completed by Dec 2020,” Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac tweeted on Thursday. The budget had proposed the creation of a new optical fibre network named ‘K-Fon’ parallel to the existing Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) electric power network at a worth of 1,000 crore. Other than extending broadband connectivity to every household, the government also wants to install WiFi hotspots in a range of public places.
Meanwhile, in her maiden budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharmaan presented the blueprint of what is in the pipeline for the facelift of the rural areas in terms of connectivity. Finance Minister said that the proliferation of optical fibres in rural India will gain a boost in the coming years under the BharatNet project, which itself is a crucial ingredient of the Modi government’s Digital India programme.