In an ambitious scheme, the Chhattisgarh government is going to distribute over 55 lakh smartphones in the state.
"To bridge the digital divide, the cabinet headed by Chief Minister Raman Singh today approved a proposal to distribute free smartphones under a scheme titled 'Sanchar Kranti Yojna' (SKY)," Industry Minister Amar Agrawal said.
The smartphones will be distributed in rural areas and to the below poverty line (BPL) families in urban areas and college-going youths in two phases, he said.
In the first phase, smartphones will be distributed in the villages with a population of more than 1,000, to BPL families in urban areas, and college students.
Some 50.8 lakh handsets would be distributed in the first phase in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Another 4.8 lakh smartphones will be distributed in villages which have a population of less than 1,000, and lack mobile network coverage.
Simultaneously, telecom service providers will be encouraged to expand their networks in these areas, the minister said.
The smartphone will be issued in the name of the female member of the family.
Phone numbers allotted with handsets will come pre-linked to Aadhaar number and bank accounts of beneficiaries, Agrawal said.
Telecom service providers will be allowed to install mobile towers atop government buildings free of cost, he added.