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The general Budget in July is likely to give a fillip to the government's telecom projects to make the Prime Minister's vision of Digital India a success. Under the roadmap, the Department of Telecom's (DoT) Central sector projects will be allocated more funds.
The government has set a target of creating 1 lakh digital villages in the next five years with an aim to foster financial inclusion. Digital villages are an integral scheme linked with the Digital India initiative, which aims to provide a platform for availability of services such as telemedicine, tele-education, LED street lighting, wifi and skill development to the people at the gram panchayat level across the country.
Official sources said the department has sought higher allocations in central sector projects as well own projects. The Central sector schemes could see a minimum 15 per cent rise from the Rs 13,400 crore allocated in the interim Budget.
The Central sector projects are BharatNet to provide affordable broadband services to citizens and institutions in rural areas where the financial outlay was Rs 8,000 crore in last fiscal.
Mobile Connectivity in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas; augmentation, creation and management of OFC Network in NE I & NE II; provision of 25,000 the block-level telephone exchanges in rural areas; and Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP) for Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands form part of the wholly Centrally funded schemes.
In the interim Budget, the total allocation was Rs 13,400 crore towards these Central sector schemes, up from Rs 10,000 crore in 2018 Budget. The major part of this funding at Rs 4,725 crore was for the defence spectrum network under the optical fibre cable based network for defence services. The DoT projects were allocated Rs 326 crore.
In the Budget 2018, Government allocated Rs 10,000 cr to boost telecom infrastructure. The then finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced Rs 10,000-crore outlay for the 2018-19 fiscal on expansion of telecom infrastructure under various government projects in the country as in for creation and augmentation of this telecom infrastructure.
(Anjana Das can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)