Centre govt's ‘Bharat Net’ scheme fails to take off

Centre govt's ambitious scheme ‘Bharat Net’ fails to take off

Wi-Fi equipment installed on a Grama Panchayat building at Alakere village in Mandya taluk. dh photo

The Union government’s ambitious ‘Bharat Net’ scheme, that is aimed to provide internet service to the rural people, is a total failure in Mandya district.

Bharat Net is the world’s largest rural broadband project. It is supposed to provide broadband connectivity to all 2.5 lakh Grama Panchayats (GPs), across the country.

The Union government, as part of its Digital India initiative, implemented ‘Bharat Net’ project in 2017 in 14 states, covering 29,452 GPs, in 170 districts. Accordingly, 2,225 GPs in Karnataka, including 55 in Mandya district, were included in the project and Wi-Fi equipment were installed, by a private organisation, under e-administration division.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had announced that every village will get internet facility by March 2020. The deadline is over. While the second phase of the works have been started across the country, the rural people in the state are yet to enjoy the benefits of internet.

According to sources, Rs 4 lakh has been spent for each Grama Panchayat for installing the facility. The equipment includes four solar panels, four batteries and others. There were plans to provide internet package through coupons and the rate was fixed at Rs 10 for 500 MB, Rs 25 for 2 GB, Rs 50 for 4.5 GB (15 days validity) and Rs 100 for unlimited internet for 28 days. It was also announced to give free internet facility from January 1 to March 31. But, as the scheme has been neglected, the rural population here are denied the facility.

'No information'

The Common Service Centre employees alleged that the district-level officials have no information about Bharat Net programme and the negligence of the Zilla Panchayat officials and Panchayat Development Officers (PDO).

In the second phase, Wi-Fi facility is being installed at 185 GPs in Mandya district. Most of the PDOs have stalled the project, it is alleged.

ZP CEO K Yalakkigowda said that he has no information about the Wi-Fi facility under Bharat Net and would verify the same.