The government finally intends to provide broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats.
The government today said 80,000 gram panchayats in the country have been provided with broadband connectivity under BharatNet programme and the rest of the targeted 1 lakh villages will be given the facility by the next month.
Communications Minister Manoj Sinha said in the Rajya Sabha that under phase-I of the plan, a total of one lakh gram panchayats were to be provided with broadband connectivity under BharatNet by March end this year.
The government finally intends to provide such broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the country.
"For providing internet-based services to citizens in rural areas, WiFi hotspots are proposed to be set up in all Gram Panchayats in the country, leveraging the infrastructure of BharatNet, in the phase II of the BharatNet scheduled to be completed by December 2018," he said in his written reply.
Mr Sinha said cable-laying work in many states like Kerala, Karnataka, Chhatisgarh, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh is almost 100 per cent complete.
He said a total of 1,127 WiFi hotspots in various gram panchayats will be set up in the coming days and a total of 25,000 public WiFi hotspots at rural telephone exchanges are to be installed and 5,000 WiFi 'chaupals' are to be set up.
He added that preference is also being given to areas affected by left-wing extremism.
The Minister, however, admitted that West Bengal has lagged behind in broadband connectivity but efforts will be made to speed up the work soon.
He added that a total of Rs 71.71 crore has been earmarked for increasing connectivity in West Bengal during the year 2016-17.