The DoT did not award work to CSS Wi-Fi Services Chaupal
The establishment of a fiber optic network across India under the BharatNet initiative through the public-private partnership (PPP) model is expected to provide a growth opportunity for the private infrastructure sector. This approach encourages the adoption of similar models in other sectors as well.
Now Parliament has been informed that the Telecommunications Department has not directly awarded any work under the BharatNet initiative to CSS Wi-Fi Chaupal Services India. Devusinh Chauhan, the Minister of State for Communications wrote a response to Rajya Sabha on the matter, notes PTI.
Maintenance of phase 1 of BharatNet
In his response, he noted that CSC eGovernance Services India Limited (CSC-SPV) had been entrusted with the maintenance work of the BharatNet phase 1 project. To be more precise, the BharatNet Phase-1 maintenance project involves the operation and maintenance of the fiber optic cable network and maintenance of the fire line infrastructure and support equipment.
In particular, CSC-SPV comes under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technologies (MeitY). The President of this ad hoc structure is the Secretary of MeitY.
No call for tenders, clear the DoT
The Minister was also questioned whether there had been a call for tenders when awarding the BharatNet project contract under DoT (Department of Telecommunications) to private parties or CSC-SPV via CSC Wi- Fi Chaupal Services India Private Limited. He replied that the DoT did not award any work under the BharatNet project directly to CSC Wi-Fi Chaupal Services India Private Limited.
The CSC-SPV has been assigned to provide Wi-Fi services in nearly 1.10 lakh gram panchayats. Among those awarded gram panchayats, CSC-SPV will also provide fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service connections to 5 government institutions per gram panchayat in nearly 77,000 gram panchayats, the minister said. In addition, Chauhan added that CSC-SPV engages suppliers based on the open expression of interest.
The BharatNet phase 1 project helped the government connect more than one lakh of village panchayats to benefit from a high-speed broadband network. Notably, the implementation of BharathNet via PPP is segmented into nine packages in 16 states and tenders were issued by BBNL (Bharat Broadband Network Limited) in July.