Modi’s village broadband plans facing delays; will private players help fulfill the goal?

Niti Aayog in a meeting with officials from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed the public-private-partnership model in the BharatNet scheme to provide thrust in the lackluster functioning to carry out the service.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious BharatNet scheme to connect India’s hinterland with Broadband is languishing, with the project already having missed its phase-1 target, and now phase-2 targets seemingly impossible to achieve. The government has called for help from private players to fill the gaps to overcome the current delays in implementation of BharatNet, The Indian Express citing an unidentified official. The union government had launched the scheme to provide last-mile connectivity to every village and gram panchayat. The scheme had an initial target to connect 2.50 lakh Gram Panchayats with high-speed internet connections by March 2019 but could connect only 1.18 lakh in the stipulated time.

“With an estimated Rs 19,516.37 crore having been invested in the scheme so far, the utilisation status of the infrastructure created under this so far is discouraging. Of the 1.26 lakh GPs that have been made service ready so far, WiFi hotspots are functional only in 15,000. The plan to provide fibre to the home (FTTH) connectivity is operational only at 27,856 GPs till end-December,” the report said citing the official.

As a result, the government is considering roping in private firms to meet the requirements set in phases 1 and 2. Central government think Tank Niti Aayog in a meeting with officials from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed the public-private-partnership model in the BharatNet scheme to provide thrust in the lackluster functioning to carry out the processes required for the speedy launch of the services.

Under the PPP model, private companies will be brought in with maximum contract duration of 25 years and they will be allowed to bid circle-wise for the much ambitious BharatNet scheme. The selection of private players will be made on the basis of their quote for viability gap funding. The government is likely to mandate the term of on-demand internet service with minimum speeds of 50 Mbps to at least five developmental institutions in the given area under the proposed model.

 

Source: Financialexpress