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BharatNet delay: DoT transfers eight USOF officials

By IndianMandarins- 19 Nov 2018


Department of Telecom (DoT) Secretary Aruna Sundararajan has kept her promise of 'exemplary disciplinary action' and transferred eight senior DoT officials for the delay in the implementation of BharatNet project - a pet project of PM Narendra Modi.


Most of the transferred officials were associated with the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and were among the keys persons in charge of the project, which is meant to connect all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) in the country by March 2019.


The role of USOF, under the DoT, is to provide widespread and non-discriminatory access to quality information communication services (internet) at affordable prices to people in rural and remote areas.


The transferred USOF officials are SK Gupta, Senior DDG (Licensing Finance Policy, DoT headquarters); Mahmood Ahmed, Joint Administrator (USOF, DoT headquarters); Sudhir Bhandari, DDG (USOF); Lalit Gangal, DDG (USOF); and Mohammed Mahmood Ur Rehman, Director (USOF). These officers were transferred to other States or other branches in the DoT headquarters itself with immediate effect.

The transfers followed several review meetings by both Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha and Secretary Sundararajan, in which they found poor operations and maintenance and utilization of BharatNet infrastructure.


This forced Sundararajan to write a harsh letter on November 2 to both Sanjay Singh, CMD of BBNL, and Anupam Srivastava, CMD of BSNL, saying that extensive field reports found “non-functioning of connectivity provided in 80-90 percent of the GPs as well as massive under-utilization/non-utilisation of the project”.


Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) are the main infrastructure companies under the government undertaking the project. However, as of October, only 1.15 lakh GPs are service-ready, and though clear utilization target has already been set, the actual utilization on the ground is understood to be less than 10 percent of the target.

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