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State urged to fast track OFC project to achieve success in digital governance initiative




 With nearly 50 per cent villages having low internet connectivity and mobile coverage, State government is facing a tough time to meet the aggressive digital governance initiative of the Union government.

Union Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha is understood to have discussed the issue with top ranking officials of the State in this regard.

According to officials sources, Sinha told the officials that there has been substantial progress on e-Governance front and it is expected that the State Government will take up the matter in a time bound manner.

Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi, Principal Secretary Electronics & Information Technology (DoiT), Pradeep Kumar Jena, Special Secretary General Administration and Finance, Ashok Kumar Meena and several District Collectors participated in a discussion with Sinha through video conference about strengthening the digital governance initiative in State, the sources added.

Notably, Odisha with over 70 per cent rural zones with lower internet penetration while a large tract in far flung rural areas hardly have any internet facilities or mobile towers.

As per official statistics, out of over 51,000 villages, 15235 villages have no mobile towers forcing people in several hilly regions to move to hill tops for talking to their near and dear ones living outside the State.

Similarly, people in over 12,000 villages with low data connectivity can talk on mobile phones but not upload or download any data, the statistics reveal.

State Government, therefore, has sought infusion of more funds to improve these facilities to achieve more coverage, said sources adding, Union Government is non committal over the issue resulting in an impasse over the situation.

The sources said, the Union Government planned to cover 15 districts through underground optic fibre facilities but only 424 gram panchayats out of a total 3800 have been covered in the past four years.

Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) assigned the job to Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) which is going slow over the project, pointed out a senior official of the State Government.

The State Government has repeatedly brought it to the notice of the Union Government and several times new dates have been promised to complete the underground coverage of optic fibre  by PGCIL, said the sources.

According to them, the State Government has decided to go for overground optic fibre facilities in the remaining districts using electric poles.

The OPTCL has been assigned the job to prepare the Detailed Project Report (DPR) to approach the Centre for funding the project, the sources added.

OPTCL plans to complete the project within two years, said sources.

Seven State Governments including Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have been using electric poles to carry overground optic fibre on the lines of Andhra Pradesh.

 “It is cost effective and faster way of laying the OFC network to offer broadband services to the villages”, said the senior officer adding, “Ultimately, it will be a mix of underground cables, over ground network and also wireless network to take broadband connectivity to the villages.”






Editorial

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