Poor internet connectivity in the lock down further widen the digital divide among urban-rural students

Poor access to Telecom services, internet connectivity and snail paced data speed during the lock-down rather widen the digital divide between student belonged to Urban and Rural areas.
The state Government which have announced to provide free smart phone to the kids who have no access to telecom services likely to not fill up the gap. Education minister Gobind Thakur gave a statement recently that all needy students shall be provided smart phones under the ‘Donate device’ program being run by the education ministry. However such announcements seem to be just eye washing as mere provision of smartphone could not improve the mobile signal required for better internet services across the state.

A Facebook post recently went viral when number of students their parents were seen on a top of hill in Jubbal Kotkhai areas so that students could attend online classes and get good signal . Similarly Sainj area in Kullu district kids have to move 3 kms away from their homes  to find internet signals. Hundreds of kids studying in this region of Sainj valley, especially in Gadaparli, Shangharh, lapah, Shakti, Majhan, etc have to walk around 3 kms to the top of the hill to fetch signals for their online classes every day.

Local resident Mr Mahinder Senser told our reporter that  this area have access to Airtel and BSNL signal which is not available currently.  He sought early sorting out the prevalent issue of poor internet signal and connectivity so that  kids of the area as well as other local people and government employee could discharge their online works readily . One could estimates the chaotic conditions posed to people when people living in the mainstreams could not have access to the digital and internet services. The currently people living in the tribal and far-flung areas are completely discarded. Former PIB officer and local scribers Mr R L Negi said that people could catch mobile signal of  other  side
however  Telecom services in the Chitkul and other parts of Kinnuar is extremely poor. He said that people of Lahaul & Spiti, Kinnaur and Chamba areas including resident of Langza area of Spiti valley are in complete limbo as internet connectivity is a distant dream for them.

A PIL has been filed in the Himachal Pradesh High court recently in this regards to highlight digital gap between the students and people living in the rural areas vis a vis to those in the urban center.   In the PIL, petitioner stated that the importance of access to Internet services has assumed great importance on account of Covid-19 pandemic. The need of the hour is to provide adequate bandwidth, network attached storage and routers etc. to facilitate the conduct of educational courses, conferences, court proceedings etc. on virtual platforms.

The lack of quality internet services in many rural areas is a injustice with people who are deprived from this as the internet was declared fundamental right by the Supreme Court dealing with Kashmir black out in the past. There is no clarity about opening of regular classes during the local down and state Government seemed to be not serious about this Himachal high court Himachal Pass is only one hope for them as aggrieved students could get respite from its orders.

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