All gram panchayats to have broad band by March 2019
Giving a fillip to rural connectivity, the government on Wednesday approved a modified implementation strategy of BharatNet project towards realisation of the vision of Digital India for providing broadband connectivity to all gram panchayats (GPs) by March 2019.
According to sources, the decision in this regard was taken during the Union cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BharatNet project, which was earlier started as National Optical Fibre Network, is aimed at providing high-speed broadband connectivity to 1.50 lakh gram panchayats in the country. As part of the first phase, the government is already working on connecting one-lakh GPs.
The approval entails a total estimated expenditure of Rs 42,068 crore for the implementation of BharatNet, which will be funded from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). Out of the total amount, Rs 11,148 crore would be spent on providing connectivity to 1 lakh gram panchayats in phase-1 and Rs 18,792 crore to be spent on providing connectivity to remaining 1.5 lakh villages in phase-II, a senior official said.
According to the official, the remaining amount would be spent on such essential activities that were not covered in the initial BharatNet framework, which includes last mile connectivity architecture, operation and maintenance and replacement of BSNL's poor quality fibre being used in the project between block to village.
As of June 11, 1.20 lakh-km pipe have been laid as part of the phase-I, which has a deadline of March 2017 to connect one-lakh GPs. The government's target is to provide broadband connectivity to all Gram Panchayats (2.50 lakh) by December 2018, to make the country digitally strong.