In an effort to widen the IT infrastructure in Kerala and extend it to the grassroots level, the Government has taken up a project to establish a network of small IT parks in small towns and villages.
Named Techno Lodge, the rural IT centre will have basic infrastructure to cater to the emerging need for better facilities in rural areas that have so far remained outside the realm of the IT industry. The first two Techno Lodges in the state are expected to come up at Kadakkal and Perinad in Kollam district shortly.
“The concept is basically aimed at reaching IT to the lowest rungs. By encouraging ITeS and BPO firms to operate from rural areas, we hope to generate employment opportunities”, says IT secretary, Dr.Ajay Kumar.
The Techno Lodge will be just around 5000 sq. ft in area and designed to provide workspace for 50 to 100 employees.
The rural IT centre will constitute the third tier of IT infrastructure in Kerala, after the three major `hubs’ located at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode (Technopark, Infopark and Cyberpark) and the secondary level `spokes’ in smaller cities. “They will be the cheapest option for smaller enterprises like start up companies, finishing schools and training centres. The cost advantage will see the market opening up”, says Mr.Ajay Kumar.
The Techno-Lodge centres will be set up in unused land or buildings belonging to the government, panchayats or other local bodies. Panchayaths are being encouraged to provide buildings free of cost for the scheme.
The Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited will be the main implementing agency for the Techno Lodge scheme. The company will construct new buildings or refurbish existing ones to provide workspace for IT professionals. The buildings will have electricity connection and broadband connectivity. KSITIL will also be responsible for marketing the concept.
“Having such facilities will help the IT sector to tap the huge human resource in rural areas. It will be a major advantage, especially for qualified women who find it difficult to commute to work in far off cities. The Techno Lodges will open up both direct and indirect job opportunities. The project will also ensure that unutilised built- up space is put to good use”, Mr.Ajay Kumar explained.
The Government has plans to extend the proposed network of Techno lodges to 200 panchayats over the next five to seven years. “It will be driven by demand and need”, Mr.Ajaya Kumar said. “We have had a tremendous response from panchayats. Many of them have offered unused buildings and community halls constructed under various projects”, he said.