BharatNet’s Phase 2 completion timeline to be extended: MoS Sanjay Dhotre

By: |
September 17, 2020 7:56 PM

As on September 1, 2020, close to 23,133 Gram Panchayats (including block headquarters) have been made service ready, and 1.47 lakh km of optical fibre cable has been laid under BharatNet phase-2.

The BharatNet phase-II project was envisaged to be completed by August 2021.

The timeline for the second phase of BharatNet project, earlier slated to be completed by August 2021, will now be extended as its pace was affected by the lockdown and movement curbs imposed by various governments due to COVID-19, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday.

As on September 1, 2020, close to 23,133 Gram Panchayats (including block headquarters) have been made service ready, and 1.47 lakh km of optical fibre cable has been laid under BharatNet phase-2, Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

“The BharatNet phase-II project was envisaged to be completed by August 2021. However, this time will now be extended as the pace of completion is affected by lockdown and restrictions on movement imposed by the various Governments due to COVID-19,” Dhotre said.

Citing reasons for delay in the implementation of the BharatNet phase-II, he said in March, pursuant to the lockdown and movement restrictions due to COVID-19 in the country, the project progress was affected.

“However, with the beginning of unlock phase, all efforts are being made to expedite the project implementation,” he said.

Noting that BharatNet is a “challenging project of mega nature” and the Gram Panchayats (GPs) are widely dispersed across the country in rural and also remote areas, the minister said that implementation of the second phase was being done under state-led and Central Public Sector Enterprises led model.

Under the CPSU-led model, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL) work was also delayed due to its difficult financial condition, the minister said. As many as 65,000 Gram Panchayats in eight states are under implementation under the state-led model.

“The delay in the implementation by the states is also adversely affecting the completion of the project. For other states, not being implemented under state-led model, the implementation strategy is under the process of review,” he informed. It is planned to cover nearly 6 lakh villages in the country in 1,000 days from August 15, 2020, he said in a reply to a question related to Bharat Net project.

The total cost of BharatNet, approved by the cabinet in July 2017, stands at Rs 42,068 crore, and as on September 1, 2020, Rs 24,473 crore has been disbursed by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL).

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