New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) President Ram Nath Kovind Thursday highlighted a slew of government reforms like digital connectivity for village panchayats, faster deployment of Common Service Centres in rural areas and lower data tariffs to push its flagship Digital India scheme. Also Read - Happy New Year 2021: 'May The Spirit of Hope & Wellness Prevail', PM Modi Extends Greetings

Easy availability of data at low cost, for Rs 10-12 at present, is facilitating development in the country, Kovind said while addressing the joint sitting of Parliament. Also Read - President Kovind Extends New Year Greetings, Hopes India Marches Ahead to Achieve Progress

“In this era of information technology, easy availability of data at low cost is a big facility as well as means for development for our people. The cost of 1 GB data which was about Rs 250 in 2014 has now reduced to only Rs 10 to 12. Similarly, the mobile talk time charges have now been reduced to less than half,” Kovind said. Also Read - Five TMC MPs Sends Memorandum to President Kovind Seeking Immediate Removal of Bengal Governor

The president said the government is offering schemes that are linked to Digital India and is trying to ensure people are taking full advantage of e-governance in rural areas.

“In 2014, only 59 village panchayats in the country had digital connectivity. Today, 1,16,000 village panchayats are connected with optical fibre and about 40,000 village panchayats have been provided with Wi-Fi hotspots,” Kovind said.

He further said the government has accelerated deployment of Common Service Centres (CSC) to ensure that various benefits and services are easily available to people in rural India.

CSCs offer most of the government services that are available online like issuing certificates, utility payments, train ticket booking, etc.

“In these Centres, facilities like banking, insurance, pension and scholarship, etc are being made available online to the village folk. In 2014, there were only 84,000 Common Service Centres. Today, the number has increased to more than 3 lakh. Of these, 2,12,000 centres have been set up in village panchayats,” Kovind said. PTI

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.