The Department of Telecom has asked officials to fast-track the national optical fibre network (NOFN) project and warned of action against those who are not taking decisions or delaying it.
Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg has stressed upon the need to improve decision making and directed that administrative action be taken against officials delaying the project. He emphasised at a recent review meeting of the NOFN project that it is being monitored at the highest level and every possible measure should be taken to make it a success.
The project aims at providing the basic infrastructure for the Digital India programme. NOFN aims to provide high-speed broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by December 2016 and the estimated cost of the project is over Rs 20,100 crore. Government had set a target to roll out optical fibre network across 50,000 village panchayat by the end of this financial year, 1 lakh by March 2016 and another 1 lakh by end of 2016.
During the meetings, it was found that all circles are lagging behind the schedule in issue of work orders. Sources said many circles have invited tenders several times but could not finalise them for one reason or the other. “Circles were advised to examine the reasons of failure in the first tender and take corrective measures so that tender is successful second time,” the source added. The Secretary stressed that all field units have to be decisive and should take responsibility for successful tendering, instead of mechanically handling tenders again and again, they said.
Sectoral regulator Trai has termed the project as a very “ambitious” target while saying that believing in it would be like “deluding ourselves”. “Right now we are sort of deluding ourselves by saying we will achieve 100 per cent and all of you know exactly what has been achieved,” Trai Chairman Rahul Khullar had said recently.