In the wake of lockdowns extended nationwide till May 3 following the announcements made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has requested the Ministry of Home Affairs to allow more digital kiosks to function in rural areas. The digital kiosks can be of great help in disbursing essential services such as withdrawals of government subsidies sent directly to Aadhar-linked bank accounts under various Central Government schemes.
There are in total 3,70,000 digital kiosks known as Common Service Centres (CSCs) across the country of which only 50,000 are functional due to restrictions being implemented by the police due to COVID-19 outbreak and lockdowns.
A national daily quotes Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Electronics and IT saying that the strong network of the CSCs can be helpful in times like these, especially in rural areas. Prasad said that the restrictions imposed by the police are being discussed with the Home ministry.
Presently, only 18,000 CSCs carry out banking-related services while 15,000 of them process transactions through the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS). A national daily quotes Dinesh Tyagi, CEO of CSC e-Governance Services, saying that the CSCs that are operational are already processing 1,00,000 withdrawals through AEPS that accounts to total transactions worth of ₹13 crore a day.
Tyagi said, “Around 2,60,000 CSCs are enabled to carry out AEPS transactions. If all centres are given the go-ahead, it will help those living in far-flung areas to access government money and services without going too far from their homes during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Apart from disbursing subsidiaries, the CSCs also help in telemedicine. The centres take up 300-400 sessions on a daily basis totalling to 10,000 sessions in a month. These also include free of cost sessions for animals. Some of the CSCs which have units for making female hygiene products have now turned to make face masks for local residents.