The Delhi government’s long-pending WiFi project is one step closer to reality with the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) granting expenditure sanction, a prerequisite for it to get Cabinet clearance.
The committee cleared the project — under which around 11,000 hotspots will be installed across Delhi — during its sitting on August 2, a senior official said.
The project, which has seen a long delay, was among AAP’s major poll promises.
Since taking office, it has assessed various models for implementing it, including internet vouchers with the dense penetration of 4G data in the country.
The government, in its annual budget for 2019-20, has set aside Rs 150 crore for the project. However, an official privy to the latest development said the cost has been revised to Rs 99 crore.
“The EFC has granted clearance. It is likely to be placed before the Cabinet this week,” the official said.
It is learnt that around 4,000 bus queue shelters will double up as wireless internet hotspots under the project, apart from 100 hotspots in each Assembly constituency.
The Delhi government has estimated that up to 150 people will be able to access the web at a speed of 50 mbps at every hotspot, while the data limit will be fixed at 150 GB per user in a month.
“Users will be able to access the internet through One Time Passwords,” an official added.
The Delhi government’s advisory body, Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi, had announced in June 2016 that the first 1,000 WiFi hotspots will come up in areas across East Delhi. But the proposal did not materialise.
The project was initially with the IT Department, which had even engaged a private consultancy firm to chalk out a blueprint.
In May 2018, the government entrusted the PWD with its implementation, only to face resistance as the department’s officials initially cited “non-availability of sufficient staff” and lack of expertise in this field.
The PWD had later pitched for the internet vouchers model, urging the government to keep the changed situation in mind with the advent of 4G. However, the idea was shot down by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Meanwhile, a separate tender for 1,397 new bus shelters will soon be floated, a transport department official said.
According to the outcome budget, the government has fixed December 31, 2019, as the deadline for floating tenders for WiFi in public places.
The expected date for commissioning the pilot phase of the project is March 31, 2020, while the deadline for its complete launch is September 30, 2020.
The Assembly polls are due in Delhi in another six months.