The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has delayed a lot on preparing a cabinet note for the approval of the rural broadband project of the government ‘Bharatnet’ even after getting approval from the Digital Communication Commission (DCC) a year back. The Bharatnet project was meant to cover all 2.5 lakh village panchayats with broadband networks and should have been completed by March 2019. Almost two years later, the government has only been able to connect up to 1.8 lakh village panchayats, and the reason behind that is the inefficiency of DoT — more details on the story ahead.
DoT Questioned by Parliamentary Panel for Delay in Bharatnet Cabinet Note and LWE Project
According to an ET Telecom report, DoT has been questioned by the Parliamentary Panel on IT, led by Shashi Tharoor for the delays in preparing Bharatnet cabinet note and LWE project. After the DCC’s approval last year, DoT only had to get the cabinet approval for going ahead with the project. But the cabinet note is still under ‘preparation’ which has been termed disappointing from the panel.
The panel further said that under the current scenario, it seems unlikely that the government will achieve its target of connecting 2.5 lakh villages with broadband by August 2021.
The panel also questioned DoT about delays on the Left Wing Extremist (LWE) project. The committee learned that the phase-1 of the LWE project had been successfully implemented with setting up of around 2,345 towers.
But the phase-2 for setting up of towers 2,217 locations with an estimated budget of Rs 3,214.65 crore hasn’t been allocated to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) yet because the telco is not in a good financial position. In its response, the committee has strongly suggested that DoT should make sincere efforts to allocate the project for LWE phase-2 to BSNL only.
It is worth noting that DoT had filed a Special Leave Petition (SPL) to take away the project from BSNL while allowing Airtel to work under the same tender which is very unfair towards the state-run-telco. The parliamentary panel has asked for reasons behind this move from the DoT.