Govt to give free net-enabled phones under MGNREGS

In a bid to enhance tele-density in rural areas, the Centre is planning an ambitious scheme to provide 2.5 crore people with net-enabled cellphones under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha poll.

According to the proposal, one person per family registered under the MGNREGS will be provided with a cellphone and a monthly recharge of Rs 30 for two years.

This will entitle the users 30 minutes of airtime, 30 SMSes and 30 Mbps of internet data usage per month. If users cross the Rs 30 limit, they will have to get a recharge at their own cost. To get the phone, the beneficiary will have to pay Rs 300.

Sources said the government prefers to provide the cellphone to a woman member of the beneficiary family.

The scheme will be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund at a cost of Rs 4,850 crore over a period of four years to cover 2.5 crore beneficiaries.

Universal Service Obligation provides access to telegraph service to people in rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices.

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