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Bihar’s ambitious wi-fi facility in colleges fumbles, vendor warned

Wi-fi facility project was launched on March 22 and this is one of the two resolves for youth, the other being students credit card scheme.

patna Updated: May 03, 2017 19:06 IST
Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar,wi-fi,Nitish Kumar
Students using wi-fi at a public place.(HT File Photo)

One of the seven resolves of the Nitish government to provide free wi-fi access to all colleges, universities and technical institutions in Bihar seems to have got stuck after take off due to indifference on part of the institutions and slow progress by the vendor, M/s Larsen and Turbo Limited.

Providing wi-fi in all colleges was one of the two resolves of the Nitish government with an eye on youth – the other being the student credit card and employment allowance scheme. The wi-fi facility project was launched by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on March 22, Bihar’s foundation day.

The project covering 319 colleges was to be completed by February 15, 2017. However, connectivity still eludes most of the colleges, with no more than 50 to 60 connected to Central control centre in Patna, which manages the network.

Even Patna University does not have wi-fi facility available in all its colleges. Patna Science College, too, has limited connectivity in the administrative block only. Many of the colleges outside of Patna have got equipment and air conditioners installed, but the facility is not available.

“They came and checked everything, but the wi-fi is not working. Once that is functional, we will send user data, as it is ready with us,” said Ajay Pandit, principal of DAV college, Siwan.

MD College, Naubatpur, too awaits wi-fi facility. “We have been told that optical fibre is being laid in the area. We work with our own facility at present,” said principal Kanhaiya Sinha.

TPS College (Patna) principal Tapan Shandilya, too, has Wi-fi equipment installed in the campus for one-and-half months, but the facility is not yet operational. “We don’t know the reason behind the delay,” said Shandilya. The list is long.

V Narayan, principal of Dr SK Sinha Women’s College, Motihari said that work in the college was on for a long time, but connectivity was missing. “We have been assured it will start soon, but nobody says when,” he added.

Shailesh Siravatava of MM College, Bikram, too, lamented that despite installation work going on for the last three months, connectivity was elusive.

Bihar has one of the youngest populations in the country, with the median age projected to be just 29 in 2020 from the present 20.However, despite completion of installation work in around 250 institutions statewide, the project has left a lot to be desired and the Bihar state electronics development corporation limited (BSEDCL) has, through a letter, warned the company against tardy execution, including non-standard supply of UPS and shoddy work

“The indifference on part of several institutions in making available user data – a requirement to prevent misuse of wi fi facility – and fluctuating power voltage in colleges due to improper wiring and missing neutral line, is another stumbling block,” said an officer.

“In many case, the UPS fails, as it is not properly charged. In some cases, high voltage supply during night causes problems, as the equipment gets burnt, while the supply of substandard UPS and improper electrical fitting is another issue we are taking up with the company,” said an officer of BSEDCL.

Faced with the continuing problems, BSEDCL MD Rahul Singh recently wrote to the principal secretary, department of education, giving details of the institutions that have not supplied use data so far. He has sought department’s support to successfully implement the resolve. The matter was also taken up with the Raj Bhawan earlier.

In a recent letter to L&T GM and head (contracts and proposal), the MD warned that the BSEIDC would have to take firm action, which could lead to termination of contract and forfeiture of the performance guarantee, if substantial progress is not seen within a fortnight.

“Further delay may also lead to blacklisting of the company, as problems have continued despite periodic reviews. In 29 colleges, where wi-fi services were already available through National Knowledge Netowork (NKN), it was to be integrated with free campus wi-fi, but it could be done in three colleges only,” said the letter.

An official said that after a meeting with L&T top brass, there are signs of improvement, with more deployment of manpower and fast work. “But a lot needs to be done. As far as power issues are concerned, they will take some time. What institutions can easily do is provide user data, as facility can be availed only through password to the designated person,” he added.

First Published: May 03, 2017 19:06 IST