New Delhi: The progress of the BharatNet project to provide broadband has been slow — out of the targeted 2.5 lakh gram panchayats planned to be connected, only 1.43 lakh have been made service-ready so far.
The timeline for the ongoing Phase-II of the project, earlier scheduled to be achieved by August 2021, will now be extended.
Minister of State for Communications, Sanjay Dhotre, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha attributed the delay to the lockdown and restrictions on movement imposed by the various state governments due to COVID-19 and other reasons.
“As of September 1, a total of 1,43,885 panchayats have been made service-ready. Further, Wi-Fi hotspots have been installed in 69,615 panchayats and 2,43,545 FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) connections provided,” the Minister said in his reply on Thursday.
He said that work on the project began in the second half of 2014 after a field survey of the panchayats concerned and pilot testing of the technology model.
“In Phase-I, only one media (underground OFC) has been used to cover the panchayats, and Right of Way (RoW) issues have delayed the implementation,” he said.
Under Phase-II, about 65,000 gram panchayats in eight states are under implementation mode under state-led model, and delay in their implementation is also adversely affecting the completion of the project, the Minister added.