BharatNet is a project initiated by the Union government and funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund with the aim of providing broadband connectivity to over 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country. The first phase to connect 100,000 gram panchayats is already underway, and after much delays will be completed by the end of this year.
Communication Minister Manoj Sinha, Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar and Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Modi and IT ministers of different states launched this at a function in New Delhi. "The Cabinet in July 2017 approved a modified implementation strategy for BharatNet which include.project completion for all 2.5 lakh panchayats by March 2019", Sinha said at the launch.
"Broadband services have already started in more than 48,000 villages and over 75,000 villages are ready for the services", Sinha said.
The National Optical Fibre Network was approved by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2011, and it was renamed to BharatNet and its progress was expedited by the current government.
Under the Phase-II, the government will establish fiber optic cables connecting mandals to gram panchayats covering 6,657 gram panchayats across Telangana State. However, only a few hundred kilometre, out of 3 lakh kilometre of optical fibre, were laid across the country.
The Government of India launched BharatNet Phase II project on Monday. Under BharatNet Phase I, the government has set up 15,000 wi-fi hotspots, of which around 11,000 are in rural areas and the rest in semi-rural areas.
The total project cost is around Rs 42,000 crore of which around Rs 11,000 crore have been invested in the first phase.
The telecom ministry will sign memoranda of understanding (MoU) with seven states, including Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan further asked state government to send list of unconnected villages in their jurisdiction so that all of them can be connected by 2020.
The government will also give Rs3,600 crore in financial support to telecom service operators for rolling out Wi-Fi in villages.
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