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 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.