The Indian Government has said that as on November 1, 2021, a total number of 1,66,088 gram panchayats (GPs) or local village administrations are service-ready in the country under the Bharat Broadband Network.
This was stated by junior Communications Minister Devusinh Chauhan in Rajya Sabha (Upper House) on Friday in reply to a series of questions from his fellow parliamentarians.
BharatNet project, being implemented in a phased manner to provide broadband connectivity to all GPs in the country, is being executed by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) operated by the Department of Telecommunications.
The Minister said the infrastructure created under BharatNet project is a national asset, accessible on a non- discriminatory basis to all the service providers, and can be utilized for providing broadband/internet services through Wi-Fi Hotspots, fibre to the home (FTTH) connections, leased lines, dark fibre, backhaul to mobile towers, etc. apart from other benefits to the persons availing these services.
The details of the breakup of funds, disbursed by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) under BharatNet project, up to October 31, 2021, are as follows:
(Figures in Rs. Crore)
|Phase-I & II (OPEX)||1716.43|
|Last Mile Connectivity||1059.44|
In June 2021, the scope of BharatNet was extended to all inhabited villages beyond GPs. The federal Cabinet accorded approval for a revised strategy for implementation of BharatNet through public-private partnership (PPP) model in 16 States of the country, covering about 361,000 villages (including GPs) at a maximum cost of Rs. 19,041 crore on viability gap funding, the Minister further informed.
Therefore, the total approved cost of BharatNet project is now Rs. 61,109 crore —-Rs. 42,068 crore for BharatNet Phase-I and II) and Rs. 19,041 crore on VGF for PPP model in 16 States.
The target date for completion of the project is August, 2023.