Bharat Sanchar Nigam, Power Grid Corp of India and RailTel are in various stages of evaluating and floating multiple tenders linked to cable laying and trenching operations of the Rs 21,000 Crore national optic fibre network (NOFN) project.
The comments by the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF) came in response to a query by Rajya Sabha MP and former owner of BPL Mobile, Rajeev Chandrasekhar on the status of the project.
The USOF is an independent telecom department arm that will finance NOFN rollout, which is the communications ministry’s biggest telecom venture for taking high-speed internet to the hinterlands. Cable laying and trenching is the most expensive capex piece likely to be upwards of Rs 10,000 crore.
BSNL, PowerGrid and Rail-Tel have been mandated to handle cable laying and trenching responsibilities of the national broadband venture in the 70:15:15 ratio. Bids relating to ducting are also under evaluation by the three state-run companies, the USOF adds.
The USOF has, however, attributed the time-overrun to the challenges of implementing a “mega project that is widely dispersed across the country”, as per an internal telecom department note seen by ET.