Last week, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the company promised to provide free WiFi at 500 Indian railway stations. The news was met with excitement on social media. After all, making internet accessible to all is one of the biggest steps in achieving the dream of 'Digital India.'
But, maybe Pichai and Modi should take some notes from a small village in Kerala.
Eraviperoor has become the first gram panchayat (village council) in the country to facilitate free Wi-Fi to the general public.
N Rajeev, the gram panchayat president told The Hindu that the local body had provided free Wi-Fi facility in one-kilometre radius of the panchayat.
The panchayat has set up Wi-Fi hotspots at the Grama Vijnana Kendram at Vallamkulam, panchayat office at Kozhimala, Ayurveda dispensary at Nannoor, Primary Health Centre at Othera, and children’ park at Eraviperoor.
In fact, all the village panchayats in the high range district would have the broadband connectivity.
According to an earlier Indian Express report, Idamalakkudi would also come under the broadband facility and offer internet at a bandwidth of 100 Mpbs.
The cost of the project is Rs 4,17,000, of which the village council raised Rs 3 lakh internally to set up the base station, said this report.
Users will have to log into the Trikaripur village council website on their phones, following which a password will be sent to them, which will allow users to use the Internet.
After consuming 100 MB of data, the connection will be terminated and users can re-login after a 10 minute gap. The service will reportedly remain free irrespective of how many times a user logs in during the day.
This is not the first time Eraviperoor is in the news.
The panchayat has received major awards. It was the first grama panchayat to receive the National Award for Public Administration this year.
The panchayat won the award for biodiversity conservation instituted by the State Biodiversity Board, sanitation award of the State Sanitation Mission, and the pain and palliative care award of the district panchayat in the past three years.
The ISO-certified Panchayat was also selected by the Horticulture Department as a "Model Hi-tech Green Village" in recognition of its green initiatives.