HSA Advocates (HSA) advises Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society in implementation of the INR 1000 crore Sanchar Kranti Yojana (SKY) scheme in Chhattisgarh

Catering to the pressing need for upgradation of the infrastructure including IT, telecom connectivity and to improve the literacy rate, tele-density and smartphone penetration in the state of Chhattisgarh, the Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society (CHiPS) which is the nodal agency and the prime powerhouse for propelling technological growth and e-governance in Chhattisgarh under the aegis of the State Government, launched a scheme called the Sanchar Kranti Yojana (SKY). The scheme involves the selected bidder to distribute smartphones (with sim cards and prescribed configuration), free of cost, to approx. 50 lakh people in Chhattisgarh, falling within “strategized categories” such as below-poverty-line, college students and women. Further, given the gaps in network connectivity in the rural regions of the state, the scheme also requires the selected bidder to augment the telecom network in Chhattisgarh, in order to provide telecommunication coverage to the rural areas identified after detailed study by the state government appointed consultants, prior to the distribution of the

HSA Advocates, represented by founding partner Mr. Hemant Sahai and partner Mr. Rahul Arora, assisted CHiPS as its legal advisor for formulating the scheme for SKY project and structuring and
running the entire bid process, including award of the Bid and post bid closing. Hemant Sahai commented: “The scheme aims to advance the state government’s vision to achieve digital literacy for its citizens and we are happy to have been the sole legal advisor to CHiPS, assisting them in formulating the scheme and running the bid process till fruition.” Rahul Arora commented: “It has been a tremendous learning experience for us working on this deal due to the uniqueness of the structure of the scheme which required identifying all techno- commercial, legal and practical challenges that are likely to be faced by the selected bidders to cater to such a large-scale network augmentation programme and mobile phone distribution exercise in Chhattisgarh (with a large part of the identified areas involving forest lands and quite a few being maoist affected) and thereafter crafting the bid and concession agreements in an appropriate manner to address and balance these risks. The project is now in implementation stage and so-far things have been on track.”

Pursuant to the bid roll out for the SKY project, a consortium of Reliance Jio and Micromax has emerged as the winner; whereby Micromax shall be supplying the handsets while Reliance Jio shall be
acting as the network service provider. The cost of the entire scheme has been pegged at more than INR 1000 crore. Based on preliminary assessments, besides the urban areas, approximately 14,000 villages are likely to benefit from network connectivity while approximately 50 lakh households will enjoy free smartphones in the first phase of the SKY project itself. Together, this will help the State Government to bridge the urban-rural digital divide and to facilitate social and financial inclusion, to further its vision of a Digital India. Details as regards the second phase of the SKY project have not been released by CHiPS yet. The news was originally published here.