With the extension of the countrywide lockdown, the IT Ministry has requested the home ministry allow more digital kiosks to resume their operations in rural areas to facilitate disbursal of essential services.
The IT Ministry has specified that there are over 3,70,000 digital kiosks or common service centres across the country. However, only 50K of such centres are operations due to the restrictions under the lockdown.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is the IT Minister, told ET that a strong network of the common service centres will prove vital in distribution of essential services, especially in the rural areas. The CSCs help in withdrawals of government subsidies sent directly to the beneficiaries’ Aadhar-linked bank accounts and assist rural citizens in availing other government services.
Currently, 18K Common Service Centres are carrying out banking-related services, while 15K digital kiosks process transactions through Aadhaar-enabled payment system (AEPS). Together these centres process 1 Lakh daily withdrawals through AEPS, amounting to INR 13 Cr, according to the report.
Dinesh Tyagi, CEO of Common Service Centre e-Governance Services, said that the overall 2.6 Lakh digital kiosks can carry out AEPS transactions. If the centres were given a heads up about lockdowns, it would allow beneficiaries from far-flung areas to access government money and services.
Meanwhile, Tyagi has also highlighted that the requests for new internet connections have also been rising at CSC kiosks, which also act as a last-mile connection point for BharatNet, the government’s fibre network. BharatNet has seen a request for 3.3 Lakh new fibre connections for home, compared to 50K earlier. Even, the average data usage has doubled from 2.7 terabytes to 4.9 terabytes per day.
Besides this, the centres have also taken up telemedicine activities, facilitating over 300 to 400 sessions every day. This accounts for 10K sessions monthly, including free sessions for animal consultation as well. Tyagi also elaborated that certain kiosks also have manufacturing units for female hygiene products, which are also being used for face masks for local residents.
Meanwhile, the Indian government has also allowed self-employed persons including electricians, IT repairs, plumbers, motor mechanics and carpenters to resume their work from April 20. Many of them offer services to public through CSCs.