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The Fazilka district administration in southwest Punjab last week launched three state-of-the-art libraries with internet access as part of its unique project called ‘Kitab’ to provide students with a convenient environment for studies and help them prepare for competitive exams. The district sharing a border with Pakistan has traditionally been devoid of facilities such as libraries and high-speed internet and the new libraries, launched on National Reading Week, would address the shortfalls, the administration hopes.
Deputy commissioner Dr Himanshu Aggarwal said: “These libraries will provide wings to the dreams of youngsters preparing for competitive exams. So far more than 150 youths have registered online to become members of these libraries and other aspirants have also responded on the online portal overwhelmingly.”
Rs 4.5 lakh has been spent on adding books alone in these libraries, said the district administration. Students can take membership at a monthly fee of Rs 200 which would provide them internet access as well.
Additional deputy commissioner (development) Sagar Setia, who with the help of the deputy commissioner, initiated the project said that the three libraries were launched at Red Cross Bhawan Fazilka, Azimgarh in Abohar by municipal corporation Abohar and Jhorar Khera village bordering Rajasthan by the rural development department.
“Online registration membership of these libraries can be done and so far more than 260 youngsters have registered in just three days.” At Fazilka, the already existing library has been renovated while in Abohar and Jhorar Khera new libraries were constructed. The libraries are open from 7.30 am-8 pm and as of now at all time slots, they are fully occupied by students,” he said.
Aggarwal said: “We aim to impart knowledge through books and information technology. The initiative intends to create equity by giving equal opportunities to the destitute children and youth. It is envisaged to abridge the digital divide and it will create space for the people for lifelong self-education.”
Two computers have been installed at Abohar and Jhorar Khera villages while three at Fazilka. Digital library facilities will be available at these portals and one can study through the Diksha portal or other portals for school curriculum as well, said authorities. “Many courses have gone online these days, hence we can assist students in completing their online courses in these libraries after getting a time slot allotted for the classes,” said the deputy commissioner.
Neetu, a student of Jhorar Khera village said: “I enjoy studying in the library. The environment is good and I get better concentration to study and also to get additional information through available books.”
Setia added that the literacy rate in this border district is 86 per cent which is higher than the national average and 40 percent of the population in the district belongs to SC/ST category. Thousands of children were preparing for competitive exams but there was no place for them to sit and prepare for the exam. “Therefore, these modern libraries have been set up where these youngsters have also been given access to the National Digital Library with the help of computer and internet facilities,” he added.
Mohinder Kumar, a youth, said: “I used to go to a private library at Rs 1,000 per month earlier but there is only a fee of Rs 200 here in this library, and it provides me with lots of more facilities like books, internet, computer.”
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