gram panchayat Current Affairs - 2019

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All panchayats to have Broadband Connectivity by March 2020: Govt

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister Electronics and Information Technology in a written reply in Lok Sabha informed Parliament that all gram panchayats will be provided high speed broadband connections under BharatNet project by March 2020.

Key Highlights

As per the government, as of today 128870 gram panchayats have been connected with optical fibre under BharatNet Project.

In Phase I of BharaNet project government connected 1 lakh gram panchayats and the Phase II of project is under implementation, and a total of 2 lakh GPs (gram panchayats) are targeted to be completed by March 2020.

Background: On 19 July 2017 Union Cabinet approved a modified strategy for implementing BharatNet under which, remaining 1,50,000 (approx.) Gram Panchayats in India are to be provided broadband connectivity in Phase-II of the project. The government has set target date to complete roll out of optical based high speed broadband network across all panchayats as March 2019 which was later modified to 2020 following the delay.

Delay: in initial implementation of project was on account of delay in initial commencement of project as the work on BharatNet project began in 2nd half of 2014 due to field survey of GPs and pilot testing of technology model.

In NER (north east region), gram panchayats are located in widely expansive hilly and remote areas and the monsoon season is also very long which creates a problem too. Also only underground optical fibre cable have been used to cover all panchyats.

Empowered Committee: This issue of delay has been resolved since May 2016 with constitution of empowered committee under Telecom Secretary, Steering Committee under USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund) administrator and state committee under Chief General Manager (CGM), BSNL.

What is BharatNet?

The project seeks to provide affordable last mile high speed broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the country.

Nodal Ministry: for implementation of project is Ministry of Communication.

Objective: to facilitate delivery of e-governance, e-education, e-health, e-banking, Internet and other services to rural India.

Funding: It is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF).

Mandate: It was set up to improve telecom services in rural and remote areas of country.

Progress Made:

Till date Wifi spots have been installed in 44,140 gram panchayats.

Project’s Phase I was completed in December 2017 and 1 lakh gram panchayats were made service ready.

Phase II is under implementation with the target of covering a total of 2 lakh gram panchayats by March 2020.

Government announces Rs. 20 lakh for each village Panchayat for the clean India mission.

More than 2,47,000 gram panchayats across the country will receive Rs. 20 lakh each per annum for the Clean India campaign of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that was launched by the PM on October 2.

The discretion as to what project/work the funds should be used for is upto the gram panchayat, but it will have to be used towards improving sanitation.

Allocation of funds

This 20 lakh per gram panchayat will be provided from the Rs, 1,96,000 crore that will be spent on the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan over a period of five years. Of this, the Ministry of Urban development has been allocated Rs. 62,000 cr for cleanliness and sanitation of urban areas while the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has been allocated Rs. 1,34,000 cr for the programme

 Source of Funds

Only a marginal portion of the funds will be appropriated from the Central Government.  The remainder of the funds will be raised through PPP mode by Stated and urban local bodies, private sector, levy of user charges, Corporate Social Responsibility, Swachh Bharat Kosh and other such measures.