As many as 189 tribal colonies in Kerala still lack Internet access
Even though Kerala was the first State in the nation to recognize the right to the Internet as a fundamental right, the State still lacks mobile and Internet service in 189 Adivasi ooru (tribal colonies) scattered over 12 districts.
Over 5,000 indigenous students in these colonies have their chances harmed by the absence of access.
What is the background of this issue?
- Even though Kerala was the first State in the nation to recognize the right to the Internet as a fundamental right, the State still lacks mobile and Internet service in 189 Adivasi ooru (tribal colonies) scattered over 12 districts.
- Over 5,000 indigenous students in these colonies have their chances harmed by the absence of access.
What is the statics of the Tribals who did not receive the fundamental right to the Internet as promised?
- In Kerala, there are 189 Adivasi ooru (tribal colonies) dispersed over 12 districts that don’t have access to the Internet or mobile service.
- The most detached tribal colonies are in Idukki, where there are 75 of them and more than 2,000 tribal pupils. Kannur is next with 1,140 kids.
What are the initiatives taken by the government to provide internet access to tribes?
- To deal with this problem, the Scheduled Tribes Development Department has made the first move by following the guidelines of the Forest Rights Act and requesting approval from the Forest Department to erect communication towers inside tribal communities that are situated within forests.
- A project that has received approval from the Union Cabinet includes a plan to offer Internet and mobile connectivity in these tribal colonies. In remote and underserved locations, the project intends to provide 4G mobile services.
- The KFON project was started by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala as a sign of its dedication to digital inclusion and lowering the cost of Internet access.
What is KFON Project?
- Launched in 2019, the Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) initiative seeks to offer inexpensive connections to the general public and free Internet access to families living below the poverty line.
- The importance of connectivity is emphasized by the Kerala High Court’s recognition of the right to Internet access as a component of the fundamental rights to privacy and education.
Why is it significant to have internet connectivity for the tribes?
- Access to Knowledge: The Internet offers access to a huge collection of knowledge, information, and educational materials. Tribal students have access to internet research, and instructional, and learning platforms that may not be accessible locally.
- Enhanced Educational Opportunities: Connectivity enables tribal students to take part in online courses, webinars, and virtual classes, enhancing their access to higher education beyond what is offered in their surrounding area.
- Digital Literacy and Skills: Digital literacy and skills are becoming more and more important in today’s society, and Internet exposure helps tribal people acquire these abilities. These abilities may result in more favourable employment and financial chances.
- Health Information: Especially when medical facilities are far away, tribes may find it easier to obtain healthcare resources and information if they have Internet access to medical information and telehealth services.
- Communication and Networking: Communication and networking are made possible by connectivity, which enables tribal tribes to interact both internally and externally. This makes networking, experience sharing, and establishing relationships for teamwork easier.
What are the Environmental effects of setting up towers in Forest areas?
- Habitat Fragmentation: The installation of towers may necessitate the clearance or modification of portions of the forest, resulting in the disturbance of the habitat. This may affect the movement of wildlife and hasten habitat decline.
- Impact on Biodiversity: A wide variety of plant and animal species can be found in forests. A decrease in biodiversity may result from disturbances caused by tower installation that influence the local flora and animals.
- Ecosystem Services: Forests offer a range of ecosystem services, including the filtration of water, the storage of carbon, and the control of the climate. The building of towers might obstruct these services and throw off the equilibrium of the environment as a whole.
- Deforestation and Degradation: The clearing of land for the installation of towers may cause localized deforestation or forest degradation, which will have long-term detrimental effects on the ecosystem.
- Wildlife Disturbance: Tower construction and operation may disturb the behaviour, breeding cycles, and nesting locations of wildlife. The populations of wildlife may be badly impacted by noise, vibrations, and human activity.
In conclusion, Kerala’s initiatives to give tribal colonies Internet access demonstrate the state’s dedication to closing the digital divide and fostering digital inclusion. The KFON project, the proposed communication tower initiative, and the legislative acknowledgement of Internet rights could all have a big positive impact on tribal people’ and students’ lives.