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May 29, 1998


Kerala announces separate IT policy

D Jose in Thiruvananthapuram

Email this story to a friend. Another state from southern India has come out with a separate information technology policy.

Kerala, the only Indian state with 100 per cent literacy, now has ambitions to build a 100 per cent information technology driven society.

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The government plans to set up Internet kiosks in every village 'panchayat' ward and hook every school and college to the Web.

To accomplish this, State Industries Minister Susheela Gopalan announced Wednesday a multi-pronged strategy. The policy aims to exploit the mass appeal that all kinds of media enjoy in the state with the help of the penetration that communications technologies have been able to achieve in Kerala.

The policy envisages PC penetration of 10 per 1,000 of the population by 2001 and hooking up of all colleges to the Internet by 2000 and all schools by 2002.

It has been framed on the recommendation of an expert committee and seeks to establish the state as a fertile location for the growth of information technology industry, facilitate the flow of investments from within the country and abroad, achieving in the process rapid growth in domestic and export earnings.

The policy statement proposes setting up of a state information infrastructure comprising high-speed broadband communication backbone, nodes, access network, data warehouses and service locations to cater to the needs of trade, industry and tourism and also to enhance the delivery of government services to the people.

The government would take a series of policy initiatives and provide incentives and concessions to achieve the objectives.

It would set up a venture capital fund to cater to the fund requirements of the IT industry.

The proposed incentives and concessions include exemption from the requirements of the Pollution Control Act, priority in sanctioning and servicing of power, waiver of sales tax for seven years and a host of subsidies.

The government has promised to create an atmosphere wherein any unit can be set up without obtaining prior clearance from the state, district or local government agencies.

The infrastructure the government proposes to provide includes establishment of an institute of information technology and the setting up of an accreditation mechanism.

Mission targets of the private sector-assisted state information infrastructure, in keeping with the concept of global information infrastructure, are connectivity at 2 MBPS to any user in the three major cities and at multiples of 64 KBPS in other parts of the state by 2000.

All district headquarters will be provided with connectivity by 1999, all 'taluk' headquarters by 2000 and village offices by 2002.

A three-tier paradigm of connectivity, comprising backbone transmission fabric, switches/nodes and last-mile segments/access network, will form the infrastructure for information transfer of all kinds.

The Union Department of Telecommunication has an optic fibre backbone covering the entire state. It is planning additional microwave capacity of 6 GHz by 2000.

The infrastructure created by cable TV companies will also be harnessed to set up the access network. A high-power committee, chaired by the chief minister, will be set up to coordinate and direct strategies to achieve rapid IT penetration.

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