When it comes to flagship schemes by the government to boost connectivity and create a robust Wi-Fi broadband environment in the deepest parts of the country, BharatNet comes to mind. In the latest turn of events, the government has been ideating upon the viability gap funding (VGF) for the BharatNet programme to give it a further stimulus in the rural regions. The VGF will amount to Rs 29,430 crore and will cover 3,60,000 villages in 16 states.
Leveraging Public-Private Partnership
The government has decided to leverage the public-private partnership model for the rollout of BharatNet in these 16 states. This means the launch, maintenance, operation, utilisation will be able to happen efficiently and faster. This will also allow the centre to bring these e-services to the grassroots population in a more accelerated manner.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology (IT) had criticised the DoT for not being able to prepare Cabinet Note on the PPP modelling for the rollout of the rural broadband service. It’s worthy to note that BharatNet would help in bridging the rural-urban divide, and it will bring much-needed services to the rural untapped population. Additionally, this service will have multiple use cases like education, health, e-governance, skill development, telemedicine, among many.
When it comes to revenue, BharatNet would be able to depend on the proliferation of broadband connections to individuals & institutions, sale of dark fibre, Fiberization of mobile towers, e-commerce etc., to rake in some revenue.
Allocation by Government Shoots to Rs 61,109 Crore
After the announcement made on Monday, the additional allocation for the BharatNet project comes out to be Rs 19.041 crore, which is the amount going towards the upgradation and expansion of the project. With this addition, the total outlay for the BharatNet project has now reached Rs 61,109 crore.
The 16 states being talked about for this project include Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
The BharatNet project would be a big catalyst in bringing another digital revolution in rural India. It will go a further step beyond the Community Service Centres which exist right now. The population in the deepest parts of India and under 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats would be able to use high-speed fibre connectivity under the BharatNet rollout.