CSC partners Sterlite Technologies to train 1L VLEs.. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Feb 11 : The much-touted BharatNet project, aimed at connecting 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats, still lags with as many as 98,569 Panchayats yet to be service ready, Parliament was told on Thursday.

The deadline to connect all the 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats in the country and provide 100 Mbps connectivity to all the Panchayats is also set to be extended from the previous deadline of August 2021.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Sanjay Dhotre said: "So far, a total number of 1,51,431 Gram Panchayats (Including Block HQ) have been made Service Ready." The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology had recently pulled up the Department of Telecommunications for the delay in preparing a cabinet note for the roll-out of a public-private partnership (PPP) model for the rural broadband BharatNet project.

In its report, the panel said that this had not been done even though a whole year has passed since the Digital Communication Commission (DCC) gave its approval for the initiative.

The DCC had last year given in-principle approval to move to a public private partnership (PPP) model in order to expedite the project's implementation.

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