New Delhi: Aiming to provide connectivity in remote areas, Indian Railways will set up Wi-Fi hotspot kiosks at about 500 stations and help people access an array of online services, including various government schemes.
Christened as Railwire Saathi, the Wi-Fi kiosks will function like a PCO for Digital India and enable people to use services like e-commerce, online banking, offer them access to open school/university and insurance schemes, e-ticketing for train and bus services among others.
Automated form filling, mobile and DTH recharge are other services which the Railwire Saathi is expected to provide in areas with limited connectivity.
The Railwire Saathi aims to provide connectivity to the unconnected and at the same time offer jobs opportunities in rural areas, a senior railway ministry official said.
While Railways is equipping about 400 stations with free Wi-Fi service in association with Google, this scheme has dual aim—providing jobs as well as connectivity.
He said the scheme is expected to be operational by May. The Railwire Saathi is a Wi-Fi entrepreneurship model where unemployed youths, preferably women, can be trained and supported to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot and provide a platform to online services which will make the business sustainable, he said.
RailTel, the telecom arm of Railways, would execute the scheme across the country. Though there are various schemes for minorities, farmers, common man and many avenues for completing education, people in remote areas are generally not aware of them or find it difficult to access them, said the official.
Unemployed youth who wants to be RailWire Saathi would have to contact RailTel for necessary training. The training course will be approved by National Skill Development Council (NSDC). After being trained by RailTel, the youth will get certificate which can be used to get loan under the Mudra scheme, he said. Using the loan money, they will install and manage the Wi-Fi hotspots as per design provide by RailTel.
Railwire Saathi will help in disseminating information about various government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Ujjwal Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna, Pradhan Mantri Atal Pension Yojna, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Beema Yojna and Pradhan Mantri Surakhya Beema Yojna among others.