In all likelihood, the government is going to miss the deadline of December 2016 for rolling out the optical fibre network (OFN) across 2,50,000 village panchayats, according to a parliamentary committee.
A status report on the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project by the Standing Committee on Information Technology, headed by BJP MP Anurag Singh Thakur, was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Given the current status of the project, the report stated that it will be extremely difficult to meet the target of providing optical fibre connectivity to 2.5 lakh villages by 31st December 2016.
The government had approved the Rs 20,100cr National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) in 2011 for facilitating at least 100 Mbps bandwidth in all the estimated 2,50,000 village panchayats.
According to the data shared by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in parliament, an amount of Rs 3,054.43 crore had already been released for the project till October 2015.
“As on December 6, 2015, optical fibre laying in 32,272 gram panchayats has been completed,” Prasad said.
The work has been distributed by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) to three central public sector units — BSNL, RailTel and PowerGrid. Survey work and tenders for supply of material and execution of the project are underway by BBNL and the three CPSUs.
The present NDA Government had fixed this deadline for completing the rollout of optical fibre in a phased manner by December 2016.
The panel recommended that the system monitoring instituted by BBNL for the execution of the project must be tightened to make central public sector unit involved in it more accountable.
“The Committee is of the firm view that the success of NOFN, a project of national importance, is not only essential to the expansion of the telecom network, but will also provide the requisite infrastructure to support the ‘Digital India’ campaign of the government,” the panel report read.