Though BharatNet network had connected over one lakh Gram Panchayats across the country till December 31, 2017, the project has remained slow in the Northeastern Region due to various reasons including law and order situation, with Manoj Sinha, Union Minister of State for Communications, admitted here on Tuesday.
“We have achieved a significant milestone under BharatNet by connecting over one lakh Gram Panchayats (GP) across the country with high-speed optical fibre network as per the declared deadline of 31st December 2017. In the eight Northeastern states however only 2240 GPs out of 7338 GPs taken up in Phase I are service ready,” minister Sinha said.
Speaking at a conference of IT ministers of the Northeastern states, minister Sinha put the blame for slow progress in the region on low capacity of the implementing agencies, hilly terrain, remoteness, inaccessibility and law and order. “Progress of the BharatNet project has been slow in the Northeastern region due to capacity of agencies implementing the project, various developmental activities like expansion of National Highways by NHAI, hilly terrain, remoteness and inaccessibility of areas, and law-and-order related issues,” he said. While 7338 GPs out of a total of 12,017 GPs in the region were taken up in Phase I, only 2240 GPs were service-ready as on December 31, he informed.
“The BharatNet project is expected to augment the spread of digital connectivity, which in turn will help create direct and indirect employment opportunities in rural and remote areas. The provision of broadband and internet penetration and e-services has a positive impact on GDP growth besides quicker, transparent and cost effective governance,” minister Sinha said.
Speaking at the Conference, Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, DOT, said the Northeast required to put in place a very strong and effective institutional mechanism to provide a quantum jump in the digital connectivity status of all states by March 2019.