DoT may take two years for completion of NOFN project

NEW DELHI: The Department of Telecom (DoT) is likely to work towards bringing forward the target dates for completion of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) to June 2016 as the project is key to various 'Digital India' initiatives.

The government has already approved the Digital India programme comprising various projects worth about Rs 1 lakh crore to transform the country into a digitally-empowered knowledge economy.

The programme includes projects that aim to ensure that government services are available to citizens electronically and people get benefit of the latest information and communication technology.

"During a recent meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi desired that DoT should work towards the early implementation of NOFN project. The target is to connect 50,000 gram panchayats by the end of December but the PM desired if 70,000 gram panchayats could be connected in the same period," a source privy of the development said.

The DoT has also written to BBNL to prepare a detailed schedule with intermediate milestones for commencing of NOFN by June 2016.

The ambitious project worth around Rs 35,000 crore aims to provide high-speed broadband connectivity to 2.50 lakh gram panchayats in India by March 2017.

As per the current status, all the states and union territories except Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep have signed an MoU with DoT and BBNL for free Right of Way (RoW) for optic fibre laying.

BSNL, Railtel and Powergrid have completed survey for around 2 lakh gram panchayats.

Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also met Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa yesterday in Chennai to sort out the issues related to RoW in laying optic fibre.

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