Mohali: The UPA-led government has taken "very big decisions" and brought "path breaking reforms" but information regarding these decisions and reforms is not reaching the people, Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal said on Monday.

He also accused electronic media of presenting the Centre’s performance in "poor light" by not sharing any information with regard to government’s decisions.

"... some times discussions take place inside Parliament or outside Parliament that this government (UPA) does not take decision. But I think that the way this government took decisions in the field of education, IT or telecom sector .. perhaps it would not have happened in last 60 years (by any government) ... but the problem is information regarding these decisions does not reach people," he said.

He was here to lay foundation stone of Software Technology Park of India (STPI) incubation centre which would have 1.40 lakh square feet of built up space with central assistance of Rs 55 crore.

"UPA government has taken very big decisions but those who run 24x7 (channels) do not share with people and then blame that Centre is not doing anything," he said.

He said the Centre wanted to push education reforms but it could not do so because of opposition in Parliament.

"Our National Accreditation Bill and Education Malpractices Bills are pending in Parliament. We brought these bills ... but problems lies somewhere else," he said.

"If Parliament passes it (Bills) quality education will be given to students ... educational institutions will have to be accredited ... malpractices in education will be cured."

Sibal also rejected the charge of non-Congress states that Centre was giving step-motherly treatment to them.

"We are giving money to states, we are giving concessions to them (and) we are creating employment in these states. But even then we face the blame that Centre does not do anything for states," he rued.

Sibal said UPA government was taking "revolutionary" decisions and "path breaking" reforms and their results were visible on the ground.

Sharing information about Centre’s decision on IT sector, Sibal said a sum of Rs 20,000 crore has been earmarked under the National Optical Fibre Network scheme whereby 2.50 lakh gram pachayats would be covered across the country in 2 years.

"With optical fibre network, there will be an improvement in public services like payment of electricity bills, passport verification and land records. Moreover, e-health and e-education service can also be launched," he said.

Sibal, who is also HRD minister, further said the Centre has plans to create 10 lakh square feet of IT space across the country to boost the IT sector.

Moreover, there are plans to set up electronic manufacturing cluster across the country, stressing that it would create more employment opportunities in the country.

Sibal also advocated the need of bringing foreign direct investment in the education sector in order to meet the growing educational requirement by 2020.

He said there would be 45 million students who would go to colleges by 2020 and then there would be a huge requirement of colleges and universities to meet their educational needs.

Sibal further said under National Knowledge Network programme, all colleges and universities would be connected within next six months.

Later, when asked that cellular companies had talked about increase in tariff rates after fixing the base price of Rs 14,000 crore for airwaves sales, he said, "let the auction take will decide."

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said setting up of the incubation centre at Mohali would help in making Punjab the next IT hub of the country.

This would eventually facilitate software solutions expansion by providing a large number of small units with space at affordable rates and other benefits of infrastructure facilities such as lease line connections, computers, software, manpower and guidance etc, he said.

Setting up of STPI incubator would streamline system for securing hassle free government approvals and incentives like duty free imports, export certifications, allocation of foreign exchange, etc, Badal said.

He said that exports from the region have seen a meteoric rise, IT and IT enabled services, going up from a meager Rs 8 crore in 1998 to a whopping over Rs 1,000 crore at present.

STPI has registered about 170 units as software exporter from this region so far.

Apart from it, the STPI Mohali has also created new job opportunities for nearly 5,000 software professionals, the Chief Minister said.

Badal said the state government's drive towards IT- orientation is going to get further boost in the days to come. The Punjab government has also allotted 12.5 acres of land free of cost to the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), Chandigarh Centre at Ropar to set up a full fledged Software technologies Centre.

He said impressed by the commitment of the state government to the development and promotion of IT and IT- enabled industry, the Department of Electronics has approved the investment of Rs 55 crore for the construction of this Centre.

The center will provide tremendous employment potential for youth and would provide suitable environment to the industry for conducting business at this place corresponding to the international practices.

The Punjab Governor and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, Shivraj V Patil in his address said Punjab is one of the most developed states in the field of agriculture and through its hard work, it has always contributed maximum food grains share in national food basket.


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