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Rs 1,072 crore submarine optical fibre cable connectivity project approved

Nidhi Singal     December 9, 2020

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity between Mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project).

The Project envisioning provisions of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) between Kochi and 11 Islands of Lakshadweep viz. Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Agati, Amini, Androth, Minicoy, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kiltan&Kadmat has been approved by the Union Cabinet. The estimated cost of implementation is about Rs 1,072 crore including operational expenses for five years. The Project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund.

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Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has been nominated as Project Execution Agency and Telecommunications Consultant India Ltd. (TCIL) as the Technical Consultant of the Project to assist Universal Service Obligation Fund, Department of Telecommunications. The ownership of the asset under the project will rest with USOF, the funding agency, under DoT. The project is targeted to be completed by May 2023.

At the moment, the only medium of providing telecom connectivity to Lakshadweep is through satellites, but the bandwidth available is limited to 1 gbps. Lack of bandwidth is a major constraint in providing data services, which is a pre-requisite for providing e-governance, e-education, e-banking etc. for inclusive growth of society.

The submarine connectivity project will have a vital role for the delivery of e-governance services at the doorstep of citizens, potential development of fisheries, coconut-based industries and high-value tourism, educational development in term of tele-education and healthcare in terms of telemedicine facilities. It will help in the establishment of numerous businesses, augment e-commerce activities and provide adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing. The Lakshadweep Islands have the potential to become a hub of logistic services.

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Explaining the impact, the press statement highlighted that it was evident that the growth of telecom infrastructure is closely linked with economic and social development. Telecommunication connectivity plays a vital role in employment generation. The present approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity will vastly improve telecommunication facility in the Lakshadweep Islands by providing large bandwidth.

Earlier this year, PM Modi had inaugurated the submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) connecting Chennai and Port Blair. The Chennai-Andaman Nicobar Under Sea Internet Cable Project will give a big boost to the local economy by enabling delivery of faster and more reliable mobile and landline telecom services to Andaman & Nicobar Islands, at par with other parts of India. The foundation stone for the project was laid on December 30, 2018 at Port Blair, and executed by BSNL in the record period of just 20 months. Spanning across 2,313 kms, the cost of implementation of the undersea cable laid between Chennai and Port Blair is Rs 1,224 crore.

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