Report by OD bureau, New Delhi: The Minister of Communications & IT Sh. Kapil Sibal today called the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) ---a project, which would connect all the 2, 50,000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country through Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) in two years—as a paradigm shift which would transform the way India works. Sh Sibal was speaking at a function in New Delhi where 13 State governments and 3 Union territories signed tripartite Memorandums of Understanding for free Right of Way (RoW) with the Central Government and Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL--the SPV incorporated for execution of the project).
Calling it the ‘end of distance”, the Minister said from people reaching out to the government we have now come to the government reaching out to the people. He emphasized that the content that would be “riding” on the virtual highway would be equally important, and its success would lay on it being accessible and affordable to the common man. Sh Sibal said it is now upto the State governments to digitize all data, and make it interoperable not just within the state but also inside the country.
Sh Ashok Gehlot and Sh Vijay Bahuguna, Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Uttarakhand respectively were among the representatives of State governments and Union Territories who signed the MoUs.
The number of Gram Panchayats covered in these states/UTs are as below.
No. of Gram Panchayats
DADRA AND NAGAR HAVELI
DAMAN AND DIU
In all 1,40,727 GPs will get covered by Optical Fibre Network in these States and UTs.
The Central Government, through Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), will fund the project while the contribution of State Government would be by providing free Right of Way (RoW) for laying OFC. The Bharat Broadband Network Ld.(BBNL) will soon commence the work in these States/UTs immediately taking OFC to Gram Panchayats and in remaining States work will be taken by BBNL as and when States are ready to sign MoU.
With the availability of NOFN at 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats, a minimum bandwidth of 100 Mbps will be available at each GP and will lead to proliferation of broadband services.
Benefits to States will be as below:
1. This will empower rural masses by giving them access to information, public services including those of education, health and financial inclusion.
2. Various applications for Panchayats for planning, management, monitoring and payments under various government schemes (e.g. MNREGA, PDS, Land Records, Birth/Death Certificates, Digital Literacy, etc.), e-Governance, education, health, employment, agriculture and commerce can be launched using this network
3. As access service providers like Mobile operators, Internet Service Providers, Cable TV operators, content providers etc. launch their access network and services using NOFN, it will result in creation of local employment, revenue generation and growth of GDP leading to overall prosperity of the State.
Sh Sibal also launched the portal of Bharat Broadband Network Ld. The website is www.bbnl.nic.in