The government's ambitious project of wiring up 250,000 village panchayats in the country and providing broadband connection is set to receive a big boost as the communications and it minister Kapil Sibal has made it a priority.
The minister has instructed officials in the department of telecommunications (DoT) to update him about the status of the project on a regular basis so that it can be completed within the stipulated two years.
The project will cost around Rs 20,000 crore and it will be funded by the universal service obligation fund (USOF). The state governments will give free right of way for laying the fibre.
The government has set up a company, Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL), which will soon commence work in 16 states and union territories where it has already signed agreements.
Under the proposal, the government would provide at least 100 Mbps of bandwidth at each gram panchayat.
Once the broadband services are available, it will be easier for state governments to offer various applications for planning, management and monitoring various government schemes such as MNREGA, public distribution system.
The project was envisaged about three years back, but it has got the boost only recently. Now with the minister devoting full time in the communications and IT ministry, the new company will soon start laying the fibre," said an official of the department of telecommunications.