New Delhi: The pace of providing internet connection in rural India under BharatNet project will be expedited with the support of universal service obligation fund, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Friday. "To bridge rural-urban digital divide, BharatNet is targeting internet connectivity in local bodies in every panchayat in the country. This will be speeded up with assistance of universal service obligation fund (USOF) under the public private partnership," Sitharaman said while presenting the Union Budget 2019-20.
The government aims to connect all 2.5 lakh village panchayats with high speed broadband by March 2020. As per latest official data, an amount of Rs 50,554 crore was available in the USOF at the end of May 2019. Under BharatNet, which is fully funded by the USOF, 3,33,195 kilometer optical fibre cable has been laid connecting 1,28,118 gram panchayats as on May 30, 2019. The finance minister said that under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan, over 2 crore rural Indians have so far been made digitally literate.