The Centre on Friday signed a tripartite agreement with 16 state and UT governments and a special purpose vehicle Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) to expedite the mission of connecting every gram panchayat with broadband network.
“It is a Rs 20,000 crore project and the entire fund will be provided by Central government,” Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters at an event here.
“We have announced that by December 2013, broadband network across the country will be completed. The Memoranda of Understanding has been signed for around 1,40,000 gram panchayats. There are around 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country,” he added.
BBNL will be responsible for the rollout of the project, to be executed by BSNL, RailTel and Power Grid.
Sibal said the 16 states account for 60 per cent gram panchayats in the country and the rest of the states will also sign the agreement soon.
State governments will have to provide approvals for laying of the optic fibre network and facilitate other measures for expeditious rollout of the network.
While speaking at the signing ceremony, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot promised to extend all support to the Central government for the project.
“In Rajasthan, we have made 3 per cent budget provision for IT. We are making fast progress but that would not be possible without broadband connectivity,” Gehlot said.
Other states which signed MoU included Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.
Three union territories Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Puducherry also signed the agreement.
Uttar Pradesh Revenue Minister Ambika Chaudhary said his state alone accounted for one-third of total gram panchayats for which agreements have been signed.