SREI Infrastructure Finance Ltd, the leading private sector infrastructure equipment, infrastructure projects and renewable energy products financing company is bridging digital divide between the rural and urban areas. West Bengal State Government (India) has entered into a Master Service Agreement with the Company to set up around 5000 common service centres (CSCs) in rural Bengal.
These CSCs would be set up in 14 districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Uttar Dinajpur and Dakhin Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia and South 24 Parganas, Purba (East) Midnapore, Bankura, Birbhum, Howrah and Hooghly in a public private partnership (PPP) mode. The company will set up 4,937 such CSCs to be known as 'Sahaj Tathya Mitra', which will provide Internet connectivity and also offer e-Governance services and other commercial services to the rural populace. The company will manage these CSCs in collaboration with Wipro Infotech Ltd. While Wipro will provide technological inputs, under this initiative, a large number of village level entrepreneurs (VLEs) preferably from women self-help groups (SHGs) will get direct livelihood while rest of the population will get access to e-Governance and Internet related services at its doorstep at a very nominal rate. The main aim of the programme is to improve the standard of living in rural Bengal. West Bengal has become the first state off the bloc in signing this master agreement, which is part of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). The IT-enabled e-kiosks will also be developed to provide information and services for meeting rural needs in relation to agriculture, education, vocational training, health and hygiene.