All Northeast Gram Panchayats to get High-Speed Broadband by December

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All Northeast Gram Panchayats to get High-Speed Broadband by December

G Plus News | January 16, 2018 18:51 hrs

Union Minister of State for Communications, Manoj Sinha on Tuesday announced that all the Gram Panchayats in Assam, and the entire Northeast, will be covered by optical fibre network under the BharatNet project by December this year.

The Centre’s rural internet connectivity programme implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) and funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), which has initiated its second phase in Guwahati on Tuesday has identified 12,017 Gra
m Panchayats to be covered in three phases.

Sinha, who was here to participate in a conference to review the implementation of BharatNet and other major telecom projects in the North-eastern region, said that this region will witness investment close to Rs 15,000 crore for improving the telecom connectivity in this region.

“The total planned cost of all the USOF projects is Rs 10,749 crore for Northeast states which is about 1/8th of the total investment planned by the Department of Telecommunication, which is likely to be enhanced to Rs.15000 crore for North-eastern region soon,” Sinha said.

The conference was also attended by Keshab Mahanta, Minister of Information Technology, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu.

Mahanta said that the state government, which did not have a communication department as of now, will now have nodal officers from central communication ministry to monitor the implementation of the government projects.

 “In the meeting, it was decided that the Secretary of State Information Technology Department will monitor the progress of the project implementation every month and the State Chief Secretary will oversee the project implementation after every three months. Two nodal officers from central communication ministry will also be stationed here and review the progress every two months,” Mahanta told the media in the sidelines.

This became necessary because of the sluggish work progress of the BharatNet Phase 1 which has completed only 30 percent of the work.

 “Out of the 12017 Gram Panchayats, 7338 were identified to be covered in the first phase. But, only 2240 Panchayats were covered so far. The progress has been slow due to the capacity of agencies implementing the project, various developmental activities like the expansion of National Highways by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), hilly terrain, remote & inaccessible areas, and law and order related issues,” Sinha said.

Sinha further informed that Telecom Commission in its meeting this month has approved a comprehensive strategy to implement BharatNet in Northeast India which will be connected by broadband and satellite connectivity by December 2018.

 “The estimated cost of the satellite connectivity to 4240 Gram Panchayats is Rs 733 crore,” he added.

Sinha also explained that under Comprehensive Telecom Development Project for North-eastern region, 6673 towers are to be set up to provide connectivity to 8621 villages and along the National Highway, at a cost of Rs 5336 crore.

The minister detailed MOU was signed between BSNL and Universal Service Obligation Fund (USO) to setup up 2817 mobile towers by BSNL in Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam while the work of setting up of 2004 towers in six states had been initiated by Bharti Airtel in December 2017, which is to be completed in 18 months.

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Manoj Sinha addressing the gathering at Press Meet in Guwahati

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