BharatNet is the ambitious project of the current government to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats and 6 lakh villages using a high-speed broadband network. This would bode well for these villages, the connected Community Service Centres, and other e-governance initiatives which are ongoing in the country. As per this latest development, the project, which is being implemented by BBNL (Bharat Broadband Network Limited), has floated a global tender for creation, upgradation, operation and maintenance, and utilization of BharatNet in 9 packages spanning 16 states. The concession period for this tender is 30 years. If gone through, various private entities would be able to fasten up the rollout of the BharatNet network.
New VGF Approved for BharatNet
In his previous independence day address, PM Modi had promised that BBNL would carry out the task of connecting the said villages within 1000 days. However, in recent times, BharatNet has come under much criticism and has also been mired in controversy. The report comes from ET Telecom. The cabinet has also cleared a viability gap funding of Rs 19,041 crore for the BharatNet project. Under the PPP model, the government will be taking the Design, Build, Finance, Operate & Transfer (DBFOT) approach. The government is trying to extend broadband connectivity to the deepest parts of the country in the hope that the citizen-centric services and other schemes would be extended to the population, which is currently tough to reach.
Bidding Process for the New PPP Model
According to this new announcement, the bidding process will be a single-stage one. However, there will be two separate bids, one will be a qualifying bid to check the eligibility of the private entity, and the other will be a financial bid to check the financials. Also, the separate packages, which are 9 in number, will be bid differently and not all at once. The existing BharatNet network, which is present in 16 states, will become part of this, a larger network that will span 3,60,000 villages.