President Ram Nath Kovind yesterday inaugurated Andhra Pradesh Fibre Grid project to facilitate availability of high-speed internet for all in the state at a nominal rate and said governments always have to be “online, on-time and on the ball” using technology as the enabler.
“In a 24×7 hyper-connected world, governments and administrations cannot afford to be reactive. They have to be online, on-time and on the ball. Technology is the enabler that allows this,” the President said in his address after inaugurating the project at the Secretariat here.
The Fibre Grid project is aimed at providing high-speed internet service to every household in Andhra Pradesh at a nominal rate. It will also ensure that every household in the state has access to cable television and telephone connection.
The state government yesterday said that after the project’s inauguration, fibre grid connections would be available to around one lakh households with 100 per cent connectivity in 55 villages.
“We are moving towards a paradigm where technology is not an optional add-on to governance but more or less drives modern governance,” he added.
Referring to the Andhra government’s ‘Real-Time Governance’ initiative, the President noted that such integration of technologies with the entire range of government responsibilities was worthy of appreciation.
“Today, I have inaugurated the AP Fibre Grid, AP Surveillance Project and AP Drone Project. These are aimed at leveraging technology to improve governance and enhance the lives of the citizens,” he said.
Kovind said Andhra Pradesh lived up to its reputation as innovator of technology adoption and praised Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
“This was extremely impressive and would go a long way in realising the dream of Digital AP within the wider framework of Digital India and, of course, the Government of India’s BharatNet project that is taking broadband connectivity to every gram panchayat,” the President said.
He said that from an “expensive luxury” even a decade ago, the data Internet access today became a utility “as much as a basic need as water, electricity and cooking gas”.
“Data connectivity is such a tool of human empowerment and of social change. We are moving towards a plug-and-play system where it will be the norm for houses and office spaces to configure with broadband connectivity,” Kovind said.
Underlining the “multiple benefits” of internet, Kovind said that common citizens are finding uses for and benefits from using data access that “we could not have imagined”.
“Farmers and small producers in rural areas use Internet connectivity to contact buyers in distant locations and make themselves aware of the real value of their products,” Kovind said. Similarly, digital classrooms and tele-medicine could help people leapfrog traditional handicaps, he said.
“They can expand the circle of knowledge as well as make quality healthcare and diagnosis available even in distant places,” he said.
Commending the AP government’s cloud-based virtual classroom system, the President remarked that it would “level the field” between better-off children in big cities and talented children in rural areas who simply didn’t have the physical advantages that their urban peers have. Kovind was also all praise for the AP’s Real-Time Governance (RTG) Centre which, he said, was the biggest in Asia.
“RTG is virtually a state secretariat in Cyberspace providing several services to its citizens. All this is only an appetiser. When the state capital Amaravati is fully constructed, it is expected to be the most technologically- compatible city in India. If I could put it so, it is expected to be India’s leading Technopolis,” the President said.
Kovind said he was happy to learn that the state government was using drones to provide real-time information for governance.
“This will have multiple benefits in security and policing, mining, urban development, raising agricultural productivity, measuring forest cover, anticipating natural and other disasters, etc. Again, this is a model for other states to follow,” he added.
Observing that the projects he launched today were a build up to what Amaravati and Andhra Pradesh would represent, Kovind said, “AP people and people of India were looking forward to that”.
“After all, they have come to expect nothing but a quest for excellence from Chandrababu Naidu. I wish him and people of AP a bright and sunny future,” Kovind added.
Governor E S L Narasimhan, N Chandrababu Naidu, Supreme Court judge N V Ramana, Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Y S Chowdary, Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao, ministers and top bureaucrats attended the event.
Later, the President visited a photo exhibition on the proposed designs of government buildings, including the Legislature and the High Court complexes, that would come up in Amaravati. He also visited the Real-Time Governance Centre in the Block-1 of the Secretariat.
The chief minister explained the various aspects of the functioning of RTG, use of drones and surveillance cameras, video-conferencing facility. Later, the CM hosted lunch for the President and the first lady. Kovind then flew to New Delhi from the Vijayawada airport.