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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

GITP urges Pramod Sawant to prioritize solution to Internet and Power issues

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Panaji: Goa IT Professionals (GITP) group has demanded that the Goa government take up urgent measures on war footing to find solutions to the connectivity and power woes of the IT industry in the state. With Corona Pandemic triggered economic upheavals across the globe the local IT industry is also badly hit like all other Industries. Goan IT Industries efforts to come up from the slump by using the tried and tested ‘work from home’ and ‘IT anywhere’ concepts are badly hampered due to poor internet connectivity and power outages.

With the rising number of Covid Positive cases in the state, disruption in transport facilities, Covid infection fear, restrictions imposed on travel  etc are making it difficult for employees to travel from homes to their places of work. This is creating severe problems in terms of meeting project deadlines whereby affecting the functioning of most IT businesses in the state.

If good internet connectivity is made available across Goa at reasonable rates it will help facilitate effective functioning of the local IT industry as employees can work from their home which could be located in any corner of the state.
Goa has a significant number of private ISP providers, but their primary focus are the urban areas with high population density where they can offer connections in close proximity without investing much in additional  infrastructure like cable laying. Even the Goa BroadBand Network(GBBN), the PPP  project in which the state government has pumped in crores of rupees has not been able to provide any solace to the industry in these difficult times.

Especially in the rural area ISPs turn down customer applications due to high cost of last mile connectivity and in turn Goans are losing employment, business and education opportunities. ISP’s are asking customers to pay upfront  installation charges which can vary anywhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000 for the fiber laying .People simply cannot afford this kind of installation charges.

If the government can help in putting this basic infrastructure in place, the IT Industry can make the best of it and can also contribute substantially by providing much needed impetus to the economic revival of the state. With little hand holding and planning on part of the govt this green industry has the potential to generate substantial amounts of employment and can help the state make best use of the Human Resource that is returning homewards from across the globe due to the pandemic triggered repatriation.

Another domain that is struggling badly due to poor connectivity and power supply is the field of education. With closure of academic institutions, E-learning is set to become the new normal. While students from cities have already started with their E-classes , students and academic institutions in the villages are still grappling in the dark.  Only if the government takes up some urgent measures to find a solution to the connectivity problem will it be possible to save the academic year for thousands of students on the wrong side of the digital divide.

One important question GITP wants to ask the government is, what are the rules of this PPP partnership with Gwave, that it will only provide connections in urban areas, which already have 2-3 service providers and great mobile coverage, and asks rural consumers to pay upfront 30-40 thousand rupees for fiber installation? Is the GBBN only created for urban areas? Wasn’t the motive of GBBN Rural Connectivity? Is GBBN a failure or will the government work with the franchisees to prioritize Rural last mile Internet Connectivity  during this pandemic? Also How should students and teachers manage in rural areas regarding online education? Or Rural students should be left uneducated due to Govt’s failed network connectivity policies?

In a recent conversation with the industry CM Sawant has suggested that employees working from home should shift to the local panchayat and commence working from there. A month has passed since this announcement but nothing substantial has happened in terms of giving a feasible form to this verbal suggestion.

IT Park, Single window system for Industry, employment generation promises to youth, GBBN, garbage treatment, Govt offices providing online services, Goa as an education hub, and many   more continue to remain as a promises galore.   We want the government to come clear on its position on fixing these long pending issues.


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