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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

BharatNet PPP: Post objections on bid criteria, DoT to issue revised tender

The prospective bidders had, in total, raised close to 3,000 queries and feedback on the initial tender floated by the DoT while also objecting to certain terms and conditions.

Written by Aashish Aryan | New Delhi |
October 22, 2021 1:31:51 am
Over the next two weeks, the DoT will issue the final set of corrigenda notifying the changes in the tender to make the plan more attractive, one of the officials said.

THE DEPARTMENT of Telecommunications (DoT) is likely to soon come out with a revised tender for the public-private partnership (PPP) implementation of BharatNet after interested players objected to several bid conditions in the original bid documents, telecom ministry officials said.

The prospective bidders had, in total, raised close to 3,000 queries and feedback on the initial tender floated by the DoT while also objecting to certain terms and conditions. Over the next two weeks, the DoT will issue the final set of corrigenda notifying the changes in the tender to make the plan more attractive, one of the officials said.

“So, one of the issues raised by the companies was the condition of documentation of telecom assets of BharatNet already present on ground and the procedure to be followed. So there will be some changes to that. There will be other changes as well,” the official said.

The PPP model will initially be launched in Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

Earlier this year in July, the Union Cabinet had approved a plan to bring in the private sector to complete the pending work on BharatNet, the Central government’s flagship scheme to provide internet connectivity to all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country.

As part of the plan, under a PPP mode, the concessionaire will be selected through a competitive international bidding process and will be responsible for creation, upgradation, operation, maintenance and utilisation of BharatNet. The revised strategy will be followed in 16 states for now. Its implementation under PPP mode is estimated to cost Rs 29,432 crore, of which the government will spend Rs 19,041 crore as viability gap funding.

The Indian Express had in January 2020 reported that with the panchayat internet connectivity scheme floundering at the last mile due to the failure of the implementation agencies, the DoT had been looking to rope in the private sector to complete the pending projects under Phase 1 and 2 of BharatNet.

The PPP model had then been suggested by government think-tank NITI Aayog as well as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology at a meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office. According to the then proposed model, the private sector would be invited to bid circle-wise for the BharatNet project, with the selection of the bidder dependent on their quote for viability gap funding.

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