Wide Gap between Promise and Performance
Not Even 2.5% Panchayats Have Commercial Broadband
Digital India was flaunted as a major promise by Prime Minister Narendra Modi prior to 2014 General Elections. The Union Government began implementing the scheme soon after the PM announced its launch.
Project name: BharatNet
Dept. of Telecommunication (DoT)
Target set in 2014:
To take Broadband or National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) to 2,50,000 gram panchayats by Dec. 2016.
Coverage So far (as on Oct. 31, 2018)
2.5% of the targeted villages.
Rs. 11,000 crore.
Claim made in Feb. 2018.
1.1 lakh village panchayats provided optical fibre connectivity.
Reality as per DoT sources
Only 5,010 village panchayats had real functional connectivity called Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) connection which are billed.
Another 56,700 panchayats have only test connection which worked for only limited period. Furthermore, only 660 MB data was being consumed per FTTH connection which is too low as each panchayat may have thousands of connections.
It is pointed out that laying fibre net and providing only test connections has no meaning. It is like laying pipes for water but not linking them to a water storage. What matters is that people should use the broadband. There is a likelihood of the fibre net getting rusted if not used.
Realising its failure in fulfilling the promise, the Union Government has reduced its own target to 1,00,000 villages and passed on the burden of the other 1,50,000 village panchayats to the States.
It is now the time to account for gaps between promises and performance.
(Source: Data compiled on the basis of report by thewire.in)