Just over 600 kilometres from India’s financial capital, Mumbai, nestled in the Satpura range of mountains, amid a forested area exists the village of Harisal. Characterised by a lack of roads, power,mobile connectivity and minimal public infrastructure, the villages of this Melghat region of Maharashtra are inhabited by the Korku tribal community. Malnutrition, infant and maternal Malnutrition, infant and maternal mortality rates have plagued this community for years.
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the Maharashtra Government with Microsoft Corporation and other partners in August 2015 led the way for various activities under a digitally oriented project that aimed at addressing several issues simultaneously.
Once the alliances were done, work followed at breakneck speed. New and innovative technologies such as TV White Space and Telemedicine helped to make internet facility available across the public offices and village areas at a nominal cost. The project has various components. Air Jaldi Telemedicine is the use of Telecommunication and Information Technology to provide health care services from geographically remote locations. It helps to eliminate distance barriers and improve access to medical services that were often not available in rural areas and also helps to save lives in critical care and emergency situations. eHealth Centre (eHC) is a Hewlett-Packard Enterprise-CSIR initiative where information technology will be used to enable local healthcare services and telemedicine while collecting data pertaining to patients’ health and related issues. Citizens of the area now have access to quality medical advice, Telemedicine, with Hospitals of Amravati and Mumbai.
A Digital Village Harisal Committee with 20 qualified youth from the village itself, has been formed to seek suggestions, monitor work progress and capacity building. A Digital Village Workshop for all Engineering College Professors and Students has been organised. Existing Primary Health Centre has been upgraded with advanced eye care equipment and Ophthalmic Technician training from LV Eye Institute, Hyderabad.
Under the e-District Project, Digital Signature Certificate includes Birth and Death Certificates, Ration Cards, Land Records, Caste Certificate, Income Certificate, Non-Creamy Layer Certificate, Temporary Residence Certificate, Senior Citizen Certificate, Solvency Certificate, etc. Smart Ration Card has made the Public Distribution System more transparent and ecient. Agriculture Services are being provided through Mobile Apps such as mKrishi, Kisan Suvidha, AgMarknet for weather alert, dealers, market prices, agro advisories, plant protection, etc. Farmers are already trained for the apps and benefit from agriculture productivity point of view.
Indeed, Digital Village Harisal project implementation has made it possible for Citizens of
Harisal and Melghat region to avail good quality health care, school education, banking and agricultural services using digital technology deployment. Digital Village Harisal Project opens the doors for youth and citizens to avail the benefits of skill development, local business opportunities, employment, etc.
Harisal today is perhaps the country’s first digitally smart village.