A remote village in Palnar, Chhattisgarh is beating all odds to transform from a “no network zone” to a digitally-strong village. With no sign of ATMs and a bank to the distance of 48 km, the district collector of Dantewada, Saurabh Kumar came out with a brilliant idea to make this village digitally equipped.
Since a optical fibre line laid by Essar group was passing through the region, the collector approached Essar and requested to extend their network for Palnar village. Meanwhile, Essar decided to pitch in and extend their network for the village as part of CSR. However, relying not just on the private network, the district administration also approached the state-owned BSNL to create a free Wi-Fi hotspot in the village, where the weekly market gathering takes place. This small intervention completely changed the face of Palnar village.
With training villagers in their local language to making them aware of digital payments through Aadhaar card the Digital Army instituted by the district administration ensured that every adult in the village, women and men, know how to transact online.
Due to this, the villagers have made digital transactions worth Rs 5.5 lakh from January till April in 2017. This amounts to more than 60 per cent of the total transactions of the village. The villagers use the BHIM app and Paytm. Each and every shop in the village accepts digital payments. The shops also act as micro-ATMs where Aadhaar-based withdrawals and deposits happen, making the 48-km bus ride to the bank in Dantewada redundant. Following the Palnar model, 10 more Gram Panchayats in the region are going digital.