New Delhi, Jul 1: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Digital India' drive will open up huge opportunities in health and education for rural areas, creating a large number of jobs, billionaire Anil Agarwal said today.
Agarwal, who heads the mining giant Vedanta Resources Plc, is the Non-Executive Chairman of Sterlite Technologies Ltd (STL) which is involved majorly in laying the optical fibre network to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchyats.
"I am very excited about it (Digital India programme). This is one thing which will connect India. It will bring in education, healthcare, the whole urbanisation of villages. It will connect India together," Agarwal told PTI.
The mining baron is here to attend the launch of Digital India Week by Modi this afternoon. The initiative aims to digitally deliver all the essential services to citizens and transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy by leveraging IT.
"Five hundred million people will come together on the Internet. This has never happened before anywhere in the world. If people can get education through Internet, healthcare through Internet, it will be amazing," Agarwal said exuding confidence that the drive will be a major hit.
The programme will also help cut down crime, he said.
"The crime will come down. This is the massive thing and this is easy to do," he said, adding in a lighter vein that "there is no environmental approval required..."
On job opportunities, he said: "We have to eradicate poverty and create jobs. Once you have this connectivity, education starts and things will change. It will percolate to 'Make in India' (programme)."
STL chief executive Anand Agarwal said the drive will digitally empower India and the Vedanta Group company aims to play a vital role in the programme.
STL develops and delivers products, solutions and infrastructure for telecom and power transmission networks globally and is eyeing the opportunity to be one of the key players in Digital India initiative.
It is undertaking Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) deployment in India to enable high speed broadband connectivity and is developing several transmission infrastructure projects spanning over 5,000 Circuit Kms across India.
It plans to invest Rs 300-400 crore on expanding its fibre and cable manufacturing capacities to cater to increased demand mainly due to the data network expansion of telecom operators and the government's National Optic Fibre Network project that aims to connect 2,50,000 panchayats.
It has supplied cable for the National Optic Fibre Network rollout across 50,000 panchayats. STL that makes power transmission and optic-fibre products has 11 manufacturing plants, out of which nine are in India and one each in China and Brazil.
It has two plants in India that produce 20 million kilometres of fibre which will be expanded to 30 million by 2017. It has recently signed an agreement with Ericsson to work together in driving Smart Sustainable City initiatives in India.