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The 2018 budget assigns Rs 3,073 crore for Digital India

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Pratap Vikram Singh | February 1, 2018 | New Delhi


#digital manufacturing   #telecom   #Artificial Intelligence   #budget   #Digital India   #big data  
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)

 The allocation on Digital India program has been doubled to Rs 3073 crore in 2018-19, with a part of this fund likely to b spent on research and development in cyber physical systems, robotics and artificial intelligence. 

“To invest in research, training and skilling in robotics, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, big data analysis, quantum communication and internet of things, the department of science & technology will launch a ‘mission on cyber physical systems to support establishment of centres of excellence’,” said finance minister Arun Jaitley in his 2018 budget speech.
 
Jaitley said that NITI Aayog will initiate a national program to direct efforts in the area of artificial intelligence. 
 
“Combining cyber and physical systems have great potential to transform not only innovation ecosystem but also our economies and the way we live,” the minister said.
 
For “creation and augmentation” of telecom infrastructure, the government has allocated Rs 10,000 crore. It would set up five lakh Wi-Fi hot spots to provide broadband access to five crore rural citizens. 
 
Jaitley said that the first phase of the BharatNet project, which aims to provide high speed internet to 2.5 lakh panchayats, has already enabled broadband access to over 20 crore rural Indians, across 2.5 lakh villages. 
 
To harness the benefit of emerging new technologies, the department of telecom will support establishment of an indigenous 5G Test Bed at IIT, Chennai.
 
Jaitley also announced plans to harness blockchain technology for safe digital transactions. “The distributed ledger system or the block chain technology allows organisation of any chain of records or transactions without the need of intermediaries. The government will explore use of block chain technology proactively for ushering in digital economy,” Jaitley said. 
 
According to him, the government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender. He said the government will take all measures to eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system.
 
He said that the adoption of electronic toll collection is increasing. The number of Fastags has gone up from about 60,000 in December, 2016, to more than 10 lakh now. “From December, 2017 all class M and N vehicles are being sold only with the Fastags. The government will come out with a policy to introduce toll system on “pay as you use” basis,” he said. 
 
On smart cities mission, the minister said that 99 cities have been selected with an outlay of Rs 2.04 lakh crore. “These cities have started implementing various projects like smart command and control centre, smart roads, solar rooftops, intelligent transport systems, smart parks. Projects worth Rs 2,350 crore have been completed and works of Rs 20,852 crore are under progress,” he said.
 
Under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) program, the government has approved state level plans of Rs 77,640 crore for 500 cities. “Water supply contracts for 494 projects worth Rs. 19,428 crore and sewerage work contract for 272 projects costing Rs. 12, 429 crore has been awarded. 482 cities have started credit rating and 144 cities have got investment grade rating,” he said.
 

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