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DoT proposes to drop BharatNet infra from its asset monetisation plan

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has proposed not to monetise rural broadband network infrastructure built under Bharatnet project and plans to replace it with alternative assets to achieve its target fixed under the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), sources said.

Sources also told PTI that BSNL tower monetisation bid launch will be targeted within FY22-23.

According to sources, the earlier attempt to monetise the asset under Bharatnet failed to get satisfactory response from private players.

“Bid response under PPP (public-private partnership) mode was not satisfactory,” the source said.

DoT under the Ministry of Communications has so far not raised any money through asset monetisation against the target of ₹20,180 crore in the current financial year.

An e-mail sent to DoT seeking comments remained unanswered.

According to the NMP document, 5,25,706 kilometres of optical fibre has been laid under Bharatnet project which aims to connect all villages in the country with a high-speed broadband network.

The indicative monetisation value for Bharatnet fibre assets is considered based on a capex approach, sources added.

Earlier the scope of the project was limited to 2.5 lakh panchayats, which has now been extended to village level.

In the first phase of telecom asset monetisation proposed in FY23, the NMP estimates to realise ₹20,180 crore, which includes ₹15,780 crore from Bharatnet fibre and ₹4,400 crore from mobile tower sale.

According to the document, BSNL’s 13,567 mobile tower assets and MTNL’s 1,350 towers have been valued at ₹8,800 crore. Both the public sector units jointly own 69,047 mobile towers.

The government has monetised assets worth ₹33,422 crore under the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) in 2022-23 so far, with the Coal Ministry leading the list by raising ₹17,000 crore, and the Ports and Shipping Ministry surpassing its overall fiscal target.

In 2021-22, the government surpassed the programme’s first-year target of ₹88,000 crore by completing transactions worth ₹1 lakh crore.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a meeting with NITI Aayog CEO Parameswaran Iyer on November 14 reviewed the progress of NMP implementation.

In August 2021, Ms. Sitharaman announced the ₹6 lakh crore-NMP over four years to unlock value in infrastructure assets across sectors. NITI Aayog in consultation with infrastructure line ministries had prepared the report on the NMP. PTI

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