Despite the COVID-19 lockdown for the past two months, the Kerala government's ambitious Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON) project, envisioned to provide free internet access to the poor, would be rolled out by December this year.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced the decision following a meeting with the heads of the consortium of public and private firms executing the project on Friday, May 29.
"Kerala is the first state to declare the internet as a fundamental right of the citizen. As part of this, the K-FON project was launched to provide free of cost high-speed internet to the poor and at affordable rates to others. No other state in India has implemented such a scheme. Despite the delay due to the lockdown, M V Gautam, CMD of consortium leader BEL, has promised to complete the project by December this year," Vijayan was quoted as saying by Live Mint.
Through the Rs 1548 crore project, the government also aims to provide internet connectivity to schools, hospitals, government offices and other institutions.
The project is being implemented by Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITL) and Kerala State Electricity Board(KSEB). The flagship project will make use of the resources of KSEB and KSITL to layout an extensive state-wide optical fibre network. The project will be funded by Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). Meanwhile, the consortium comprises public sector companies like Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Railtel, and private companies such as SRIT and LS Cables.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, work from home has become the new normal for many. The Chief Minister also pointed out that the importance and relevance of the internet will grow in the post-COVID-19 scenario.
"In a post-COVID world, the significance of the internet will rise. The movement of the world will be rooted on the internet. The use of internet in sectors like banking and education will rise on a large-scale. KFON will strongly back the government's efforts to make Kerala a global industrial-educational-tourist hub," Vijayan was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
The project was one of the key promises made by the present Left Democratic Front(LDF) in the run-up to the Assembly elections in 2016.Also Read: Kerala Agriculture Department To Convert Fallow Lands To Vegetable Farms To Combat Food Scarcity