The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Net first for Venkaiah village

Hyderabad, Jan. 19: So far, the only claim to fame of remote Venkatachalam village in Nellore district was that it was home to BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu. Last week, it was conferred the distinction of being the first village to host a centre of Cyber Grameen, the rural broadband network.

Unfazed by the land-grab and preferential grant of petroleum and LPG dealership controversies linked to him, Naidu has paid particular attention to his home district. As many as five national projects are currently running there, thanks to him.

Cyber Grameen — an ambitious project that will provide Internet and e-governance facilities — was brought to the non-descript village by a private trust, the Swarna Bharat Trust, of which Naidu’s daughter Immani Deepa is a member.

A Rs 300-crore development initiative, Cyber Grameen is an IT convergence hub at the grassroots level that will serve as the epicentre of all rural activities.

Each village will be connected to the Internet broadband backbone, thus making a whole range of applications and services accessible to villagers.

The network will provide telephony services, tele-medicine, distance learning, high-speed Internet connection, agricultural/horticultural services, easy-to-use vernacular e-mail, online weather forecasts, banking, insurance and e-governance.

Cyber Grameen can now reach to 20 villages in a mandal all the benefits that technology has to offer. With a tie-up with SSI-CMTES, an IT education institute, the centre will also offer basic IT training to the village youth.

The network had a power-packed launch with three state ministers sharing the platform with three Central ministers, despite the post-Godhra chill in Telegu Desam-BJP relations.

Chief minister Chandrab-abu Naidu, Andhra Pradesh’s media tycoon Ramoji Rao and Union information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj joined the programme via video- conferencing.

Union minister of state for information technology and communications Sumitra Mahajan announced that four villages of Nellore had been chosen for the national launch of the postal mobile seva, in which a postman will carry a cellphone for use by villagers.

The nurturing continued with Deepa announcing that her trust planned to launch a mobile hospital in the village.

An eight-acre complex at Venkatachalam will get a boundary wall under the Grameen Yojana, assured the Union urban development minister, Anant Kumar.

Naidu has had to step out of his state and gain entry to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat and Karnataka after his Lok Sabha election debacle in the early ’90s. But he has continued nourishing his native district, whether as minister or as BJP boss. “It seems he is nouris- hing the constituency with a political objective,” said a pro-minent Desam leader of the district.

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