Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha on Monday exuded confidence that the final phase of Bharat Net project to extend high-speed broadband connectivity infrastructure to remaining 1.25 lakh gram panchayats will be completed “on schedule” by March 2019. Nearly 50 per cent of the work on the Bharat Net project – that entails connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in all – has been completed, Sinha said, adding that the network will also be extended to police stations, high schools and other educational institutions, post offices, and primary health centre, with government funding.
“The work has been completed in nearly 1.25 lakh gram panchayats. The project entails a total of 2.5 lakh gram panchayats, and the second phase will be completed on schedule by March 2019,” Sinha said while inaugurating the new corporate office of Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), which is implementing the ambitious project.
The project is aimed at facilitating delivery of e-governance, e-health, e-education, e-banking and other services to citizens across the country. “So far, BBNL was focusing on implementation, now it will also focus on aspects like maintenance and service delivery,” he said. Sinha said that the states need to ensure that citizen-centric services – under Bharat Net – reach the public in a transparent manner, leveraging the high-speed connectivity infrastructure. “Decision has also been taken to extend the connectivity to police stations, high schools and above education institutions, primary health center, and post offices, on government expenditure,” the minister said.
The target of completing 1 lakh GPs under the first phase of BharatNet was achieved in December 2017. The second phase is being implemented through three models – state-led, Central PSU, and the private sector. Further, provision has been made for last mile connectivity in all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through viability gap funding.
Every gram panchayat will have, on an average, five WiFi access points, including three meant for public institutions (educational centers, health centres, post offices, police stations, amongst others). A tender for provisioning of WiFi services has been floated by BBNL, after consultation with telecom service providers and internet service providers, for wider participation.