Gehlot govt to disburse 1.33 cr free mobile handsets to poor women in Rajasthan, free data for 3 years

The 1.33 crore free mobile handsets would be disbursed on fourth anniversary of the Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government in December as part of its efforts to empower poor women in the state

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot (IANS Photo)
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot (IANS Photo)

Prakash Bhandari

The Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government will disburse 1.33 crore mobile handsets to poor women in the state for free.

The state government has floated a tender for procuring these mobile handsets that would cost the exchequer Rs 7500 crore. Apart from the free handset, the government would also provide the beneficiaries 4G network free for a period of three years.

Each mobile handset would cost Rs 5639.

The process of procurement would be completed in a few months and the disbursement of the mobile handsets would be made on the fourth anniversary of the Gehlot government in December this year.

Rajasthan is the first state in the country to provide free data-enabled mobile handsets as part of the state government’s efforts to empower poor women.

All the leading mobile manufacturers of the country are vying with each other to bag the order for such a large number of mobile phones.

"It’s the tallest order floated by any government in the world and this would give a boom to the mobile industry of the country. It would go a long way in empowering the women and the women would be using the communication tool for their growth," said an official of Rajcom, the nodal agency of the Rajasthan government that is handling the project.

Rajcom has convened a pre-bid meeting on May 23 in which all the leading manufacturers of mobile handsets would participate. The successful bidder will have to supply the devices within one year after winning the bid.

The bid process will be in several phases and the technical bid would open on July 1; after this the eligible companies would be short-listed.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who also holds the finance portfolio, made the budgetary announcement of providing the smartphones to the women from BPL families.

The phones would be given to the women head of the family whose name is registered with the state government's Janadhar scheme. Janadhar cardholders would be provided with smartphones. After duly examining the credentials of the beneficiaries, the smartphone SIMs would be issued with free data facility for three years.

The disbursement of the mobile handsets would be done at the district and at the block level. All the beneficiaries will have to obtain KYEC for which the state government's IT department will hold special camps.

The successful bidding company will be paid the cost of the handsets over two years. It will be paid only 30 percent of the cost price at the time of delivery. The state government would pay only 35 percent of the cost of the smartphone after a year and it would pay the remaining amount after two years.

One of the conditions that the successful bidder will have to fulfill would be the opening of a service center to provide after-sales service to the users.

Five lakh smartphones will have to be provided by the bidding company in the first phase.

Rajasthan government has also introduced a ‘Back To Work’ scheme for women who have had to quit their jobs due to family reasons.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot approved the scheme through which regular or work-from-home job opportunities will be provided to such women with the help of the private sector.

A target to provide 15,000 jobs in three years has been fixed. Priority will be given to widows, divorcees, and victims of violence.

Those women who will not be able to do regular office jobs will be provided work-from-home job opportunities.

A single window system will be developed by the women empowerment directorate to help them in job facilitation.

Skill and training will also be provided to women to make them employable.

Gehlot also approved financial sanction of Rs 8,461.76 crore for 27 water supply projects under Jal Jeevan Mission scheme so that the women in the water scarcity-hot areas do not have to go several kilometers to fetch water.

The aim is to provide drinking water through taps to 7.73 lakh households of the state.

Rajasthan runs several educational schemes for the girl child and free education is imparted to the girls. The state government has now approved plans for opening 23 more women's colleges in the rural areas.

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