Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, held a meeting with State IT Ministers on 28 April 2020 through video conferencing. The meeting was graced by the Hon’ble Chief Ministers of Haryana and Sikkim, Deputy Chief Ministers of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, who are also in charge of the IT Department in their respective states. State IT Ministers from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Assam, Odisha, Goa, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Meghalaya have also attended. All States and UTs were represented by State IT Secretaries. It was also attended by Secretaries and other senior officers from Ministry of Electronics and IT, Dept. of Posts and Dept. of Telecommunications.As a part of this, the efforts of Ministry of Electronics and IT and its organisations were presented covering Aarogya Setu App, Innovation Challenge, awareness and communications on COVID-19 through My Gov and social media channels and several chat bots at these platforms, nation-wide video conferencing facility, e-Office, Public Financial Management System, services from Common Services Centres in rural areas, CDAC’s e-Sanjeevani Telemedicine Platform etc.Secretary, Department of Posts informed that 1.56 lakh Post Offices are connected and it has facilitated 2.5 Crore Post office Saving Bank transactions worth Rs.38,000 Crore. It also delivered 43 lakh mails and 250 tones of essential medicine and COVID-kits during these difficult times.Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) stated that all efforts are made for uninterrupted and quality Telecom Services during lockdown. DoT promised all support for work from home, which is expected to become the new norm. It also explained its newly launched COVID Quarantine Alert System (CQAS) and Saavdhaan System. Regarding implementation of National Broadband Mission at field level, state government’s support was sought for relaxation in right of way and levy of reasonable charges.States and Union Territories also shared their best practices and efforts to tackle COVID-19.
All States deeply appreciated the work being done by India Post, Common Services Center, Department of Telecom and Ministry of IT in providing citizen centric services during COVID19 crisis. The states also suggested several measures and sought the engagement of Central Government.Minister of State for Communications and Electronics & IT, Shri Sanjay Dhotre remarked that connectivity and quality of internet has become even more important for rural areas and there is need to improve digital services in rural areas in a trusted partnership among Central and State Governments and Private Sector. Hon’ble Minister, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad appreciated the efforts of all States and UT in the fight against Covid19. While concluding, he made the following key announcements:Central Government would extend the Dept. of Telecommunication’s deadline on relaxation of the norms for the ‘Work From Home’ from 30 April to 31 July 2020.He asked the States to support Bharat Net scheme and requested them examine right of way issues for promoting development of a robust telecom network. He highlighted the importance of Bharat Net for the purpose of providing digital education, health care services etc. in rural areas to address the challenges posed by COVID19.
Acting on the suggestion made by one of the states, he directed that Ministry of Electronics and IT to develop a portal on the COVID-19 related best practices gathered from all States and UTs.He also accepted a suggestion from a State IT Minister for formation of a Strategy Group comprising representatives from Central Government, State Governments and Private Sector to work out a roadmap for the Indian IT and electronics sector post COVID19.He expressed his vision to realize1 lakh digital villages that are self-sufficient with amenities such as digital education, digital health, digital payment etc.He also accepted this request from states and directed that data from Aarogya Setu app should be made available online to the States right up-to District officials. Minister also announced that a similar solution for the feature phone users is being developed and it will be launched very soon.Minister further informed that India stands a good opportunity to promote electronics manufacturing and urged the states to work towards attracting investments in their states. He shared that three schemes namely Production Linked Incentive 2.0, Electronics Manufacturing Clusters, and Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS) with a project outlay of Rs 50,000 crore have been notified by the Govt. of India in order to attract investments in electronics manufacturing sector. He appealed to States to supplement these with their schemes. He made an appeal to all States to work unitedly, digitally and physically to pool together national and state level resources to fight against COVID-19 and assured all the help from Central Government in this effort.