The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has warned senior officials of public-owned Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) of stern action for failing to operationalise the government's ambitious BharatNet network.
In a letter to BBNL and BSNL top executives dated November 2, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that a disciplinary action would be taken against officials responsible and attributed "lack of professionalism" on the part of two public sector companies which has led to poor planning and coordination between the two.
Sundararajan further warned that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious project is being monitored by highest levels in the government and any failure to comply with or disregard of instructions shall invite "exemplary" disciplinary action.
The letter comes ahead of Modi government completing a five-year term in office, with the Prime Minister Office (PMO) expected to seek report card from various ministries before the country goes for the general elections next year.
BharatNet, originally conceived under the UPA-II regime in 2012, aims to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats or village blocks with high-speed Internet connectivity, and has already missed various deadlines.
Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha has already revised the timeline for its completion by March 31, 2019 which, however, appeared to be challenging, and as as per latest figure provided by a nodal agency BBNL, only 1.16 lakh gram panchayats are operationally up and running currently.
Sundararajan has also sought a weekly report from the two government-driven firms on punitive action taken against those responsible for failure of Centre's prestigious program.Clear utilisation targets have already been set, but the actual on-ground utilisation is understood to be less than 10% of the target, the top official pointed out in a letter.
"The issue was more related to maintenance and utilisation of network, and we have already alerted the officials responsible for it," BBNL chairman Sanjay Singh told ETTeleocm, adding that the onus lies with the implementing agency.
The department has embarked on BharatNet's phase - II and has fixed the issues that plagued the initiative during the earlier phase and empowered agencies to deploy end-to-end network including service delivery with lucrative scheme that may further give boost the government's mega initiative.