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Investment proposals worth Rs 18k cr received for ‘Digital India’: Prasad

MUMBAI: The government has already received investment proposals worth Rs 18,000 crore (Rs 180 billion) for the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Digital India’ initiative, said telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Prasad, who was addressing the 87th annual general meeting of the industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), said that out of this, projects worth Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion) have been approved.

“We have received proposals till now worth Rs 18,000 crore after coming in power. There is scope for improvement. Rs 4,000 crore investment we have approved, others are in the pipeline,” Prasad said.

He added that the new government has approved 8–9 electronics clusters, which will house full eco-system of making electronic products.

While the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) secretary Rahul Khullar has openly criticised the plan, Prasad said that while there are issues of spectrum to provide high-speed connectivity and regulatory control, India will become an exciting place as far as Digital India is concerned.

He said that digital connectivity is needed for good governance. Talking more about the Digital India programme, he pointed out that the government has initiated the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) programme which proposes seven lakh kilometres of optical fibre to be laid to connect 250 gram panchayats in three years. “Wi-Fi spots will be provided around the clusters after that and all villages will be provided with internet connectivity,” he added.

Talking about e-commerce, he said that it is now worth billions of dollars and will help increase India’s GDP in a big way. He also added that the postal services have earned Rs 280 crore (Rs 2.80 billion) from e-commerce and that the postal network can also be used for various services like banking and insurance.

Prasad ended by saying that the government is open to tweaking policies in the sector to make it more investor-friendly.