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Gujarat to connect 16,000 villages via broadband

Gujarat to connect 16,000 villages via broadband

Author: IANS
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: February 25, 2008
URL: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/PoliticsNation/Gujarat_to_connect_16000_villages_via_broadband/articleshow/2813822.cms

After launching Jyotigram Yojana which aims at supplying electricity to all villages, Gujarat is planning another ambitious project to provide broadband links to its rural areas.

Presenting the 2008-09 state budget in the Vidhan Sabha(state assembly) Monday, Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala said the plan, first of its kind in the country, would provide broadband connections to 16,000 villages across the state.

This is the first budget of the Narendra Modi government after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the December 2007 assembly elections. The broadband connectivity will make all villages e-Gram-Vishwa-Gram and help villagers avail all advantages of information technology (IT), said Vala.

He said the state was also keen on improving its standing in the Human Development Index (HDI). According to him, the budget revolves around the concept of HDI as the UNDP study has said that Gujarat should play a greater role in improving the HDI.

"We have to increase rural prosperity through agriculture development, and increase employment opportunities. But our stress will be on providing common man with nutritious diet, pure drinking water, extension of quality education and extension of health facilities," he said.

The government has also decided to set up a Children's University in Gujarat, which again will be the first of its kind in India, Vala said. The project will take off as an institution called Bal Gokulam but will ultimately be transformed into a Children's University.

The state was already moving towards achieving a growth rate of 11.3 percent, a notch ahead of 11.2 percent indicated by the Planning Commission, the minister said.

Vala said the state had achieved an average growth rate of 10.4 in the last year against a target of 10.2 percent. For the 11th plan, a challenging target of 11.2 percent has been set.

He indicated that the annual plan outlay for 2008-09 will be Rs 190.3 billion ($4.7 billion) compared to Rs 160 billion approved for 2007-08, reflecting an increase of 18.93 percent.

Earlier, the opposition Congress staged a walkout from the Assembly minutes before the finance minister moved the budget. The Congress wanted special discussion on the Patan gang rape case and killing of a tribal in Sabarkantha district.

They sought adjournment motion but it was rejected by Speaker Ashok Bhatt. Protesting this, the Congress MLAs walked out shouting slogans against Modi.

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