Govt chooses Raichur as K'taka's first digital district

Across India, 115 ‘aspirational districts’ have been identified by the NITI Ayog, of which Raichur is currently ranked 12. 

The government has selected Raichur to become Karnataka’s first digital district where citizens will be enabled to make and receive payments in a cashless ecosystem. 

India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) has adopted Raichur, where it will take steps over the next one year to make the backward district 100% digital. 

This is a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) initiative to expand and deepen the digital payments ecosystem. It involves identifying, on a pilot basis, one district in every Indian state that a public sector bank can adopt and make it “100% digitally enabled within one year, in order to enable every individual in the district to make/receive payments digitally in a safe, secure, quick, affordable and convenient manner,” according to an RBI note circulated to all the states.  

This includes providing the necessary infrastructure and literacy to handle such transactions, the RBI has said.  

Raichur is one of the two districts in Karnataka (Yadgir being the other one) that the NITI Ayog has selected under the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme. Hence, the RBI has suggested that the digitisation of Raichur be converged with various works being taken up to develop the backward district under the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme. 

Across India, 115 ‘aspirational districts’ have been identified by the NITI Ayog, of which Raichur is currently ranked 12. 

The Raichur district administration will also have a role to play alongside SBI. “Everyone should have a bank account first,” Raichur Deputy Commissioner R Venkatesh Kumar told DH, adding that he had not received official communication from the State Level Bankers’ Committee, the SBI or the government thus far. 

“It’s important to go digital. For instance, we’re still paying pensions through the post office. It’s only now we’re switching to payments through the post office bank,” Kumar said. “Also, the banks alone can’t ensure linking bank accounts with Aadhaar. For the crop loan waiver, we had to ask the revenue department to go door-to-door to get the Aadhaar linking done,” he said.

In terms of infrastructure, Raichur is covered under the National Optical Fibre Network initiative. “The optical fibre network is available till gram panchayat headquarters. But connectivity is an issue in some places and there’s scope for improvement. The gram panchayats use alternatives like dongles,” Kumar pointed out. 

The government is also following up with banks to set up more branches in the ‘aspirational’ Raichur and Yadgir districts.

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