A total of 1,66,088 Gram Panchayats have been made service ready with broadband infrastructure in the country as of November 1, 2021, under the BharatNet project, explained the Ministry of Communications on Friday.
The BharatNet project, which was earlier known as the National Optical Fibre Network, envisages that all the 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats in the country are provided high-speed Internet/broadband, conveyed Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
The Minister of State added that as part of the BhartNet project the last mile connectivity is provided through Wi-Fi or any other suitable broadband technology, including Fibre connections.
Answering a question on whether the government is providing free Wi-Fi access to all primary schools in the country, Chauhan wrote that the provisioning of fibre connections to five government institutions, including schools, per Gram Panchayat in about 77,000 GPs has been assigned to CSC e-Governance Services India Limited which is a Special Purpose Vehicle under Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.
"The installation of these fibre connections is provided free of cost and no user charges are to be paid for the first year," added Chauhan.
In June, the Union Cabinet had approved public-private partnership mode for the rollout of BharatNet project for broadband services in villages in 16 states with viability gap funding of Rs 19,041 crore.
The 16 states were Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh
The total approved cost for the Bharatnet project is Rs 61,109 crore. This includes Rs 42,068 crore for BharatNet (Phase-I and Phase-II) and a maximum of Rs 19,041 crore on viability gap funding for implementation of the PPP model of BharatNet in 16 states.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in June had said that Rs 42,068 crore had been already utilised under BharatNet project.
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