New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the Telecom Ministry to ensure timely implementation of the ambitious nationwide broadband project, NOFN, the progress of which would be reviewed next month. As part of Digital India programme, the National Optical Fibre Network aims to provide high-speed broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by December 2016 and the estimated cost of the project is around Rs 30,000 crore.
The Prime Minister reviewed the progress of various projects under the Digital India programme and also the NOFN in the last week of December. During the meeting, Modi stressed on the need to meet the deadline for the NOFN project and instructed officials to closely monitor its progress, an official said, adding that the next review is likely by the first week of March. The Prime Minister has also instructed Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to ensure there is no delay in implementation of the project, the official added. Modi’s review comes after the Apex Committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth, took stock of the progress of Digital India – an umbrella programme with an outlay of about Rs 1.13 lakh crore in November last year.
The NOFN is the most important component of Digital India programme as it provides the basic infrastructure for the programme. To fast-track the ambitious project, DoT has also warned of action against those officials who are not taking decisions on time. Sources said the work has been fast-tracked and most of the logistical issues have been addressed. Issues like ‘the right of way’ have been substantially addressed as most of the Chief Ministers are on board regarding the matter.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is already taking fortnightly meetings to review the progress of the Digital India programme and the NOFN. The government has set a target of rolling out optical fibre network across 50,000 village panchayats by the end of this financial year, 1 lakh by March 2016 and another 1 lakh by end of 2016.