Deadline over: Only 176 gram panchayats in Haryana have Wi-Fi zones
In Gurugram alone, out of 203 panchayats, only 41 panchayats along the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway have Wi-Fi service, although defunct as the access points that transmit and receive data have been not been functional for over six months, district administration officers said.Updated: Sep 09, 2019 23:15 IST
In the last two years, after it announced that there would be one Wi-Fi zone in each of the 6,078 gram panchayats of the state by 2019, the government has only been able to provide this service in 176 gram panchayats.
In Gurugram alone, out of 203 panchayats, only 41 panchayats along the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway have Wi-Fi service, although defunct as the access points that transmit and receive data have been not been functional for over six months, district administration officers said.
“The Wi-Fi has not been working in the area (Farukkhnagar block) due to damages in the optical fibre network, which was laid three-four years back. Also, the main server at the block-level, through which the Internet is provided, has not been functioning properly for months now,” said a district administration officer, who did not wish to be identified.
“If the first access point, through which data is circulated to different villages, has low bandwidth, how can the end-point be functional,” the officer said.
Under the Haryana Information Technology (IT) and Electronic System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) Policy, approved by the state council of ministers in September 2017, one Wi-Fi hotspot zone had to be created in each gram panchayat by 2019. The declaration was made in keeping with the Central government’s Digital India programme to provide access to the Internet in rural areas under BharatNet, earlier called the National Optical Fibre Network. It aims to connect 2,50,000 gram panchayats with rural broadband. To achieve this target, the Central government deployed the Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) as the agency to lay down the optical fibre network in each gram panchayat, while the BSNL was to be the service provider.
When HT contacted Ankur Gupta, principal secretary (department of information technology electronics and communication), he said, “For the upkeep of the optical fibre network, the Central government has appointed Common Service Centre (CSC) as the main agency. The mandate is no longer with our department.”
In August this year, BBNL awarded the broadband connectivity contract to CSC e-governance services, a department set up by Union ministry of electronics and information technology to provide easy access of government services to the rural population. CSCs are present in every gram panchayat for delivery of social welfare schemes.
Stating that service providers should have proactively looked into the issue of damaged optical fibres, Haryana CSC head Manish Aggarwal said, “Currently, we are in the verification process to see where the issues are being faced. The maintenance work will be carried out later.”
BBNL state head Rajeev Narang said, “There are no technical glitches at the service-providing end. The optical fibres remain damaged most of the time due to the ongoing road-widening projects in Gurugram. In rural areas, we have noticed that the solar panels, through which batteries of the servers derive power, were stolen.”
Agreeing that the maintenance of optical fibre network is a big challenge, assistant general manager of the Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (HARTRON) Rajiv Monga said that since the BharatNet project is going through a transition, from BSNL to CSC, it will take some time to address the issue of upkeep.
According to him, the project should have been solely handled by the state government. “We asked the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) under the IT ministry to transfer the entire project to the state government, but they decided to give it to CSCs. Currently, most of the villages in Haryana where Wi-Fi zones are functional are funded by the state government,” said Monga.
First Published: Sep 09, 2019 23:02 IST