Government may miss the deadline of December 2016 for rolling out optical fibre network across 2.5 lakh village panchayats, a Parliamentary panel headed by BJP MP Anurag Singh Thakur said today.
"At the present pace, the Committee feels that it will be extremely difficult to meet the target of achieving optical fibre connectivity to 2,50,000 gram panchayats by 31 December, 2016," the Standing Committee on Information Technology said in its report tabled in the Lok Sabha. The government had approved National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project worth around Rs 20,100 crore in 2011 for facilitating at least 100 Mbps bandwidth in all the estimated 2,50,000 village panchayats.
According to data shared by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Parliament, an amount of Rs 3,054.43 crore had been released for the project till October 2015. "As on December 6, 2015, optical fibre laying in 32,272 gram panchayats have 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 roll out of optical fibre in a phased manner by December 2016.
The panel recommended that the system monitoring instituted by BBNL for 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 said.