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DoT Releases Rs 700 Crore To BSNL For NFS Plan

Network for Spectrum project (NfS), which has seen time and cost overruns over years and was marred by controversies, is finally being put on track by the department of telecom and BSNL with DoT releasing Rs 700 crore to the state-run firm for payments to vendors of the project.

The project is aimed at laying alternate communication network for defence services to boost their communication capabilities, leading to enhanced national operational preparedness.

DoT has released Rs 700 crore against Rs 1,000 sought by BSNL to pay NfS vendors. To get the project, launched in 2010 was to complete by 2015, going DoT will reconsider BSNL request as and when funds will be needed, said a senior DoT official.

The official said use of funds will be monitored to prevent its use for any other purpose. If DoT receives any such evidence the amount will be put in an escrow account where release of funds will be subject to DoT’s direct approval, the official added.

The NfS had been split into several phases to smooth completion, but it did not take off as the initial tender issued in November 2012 was cancelled in February 2013. Now, the telco has awarded tenders to vendors and placed the purchase order, the official said. BSNL had bagged the optical fibre defence project on a nomination basis.

The project where BSNL is the solo executioner will be completed in 24 months (by 2020) as per the last year’s deadline. The network was in exchange offer after DoT and the defence ministry agreed that the latter will vacate 2G and 3G spectrums, and in return DoT committed to set up an exclusive network for armed forces’ communication.

The budget for NfS was enhanced last year and the cabinet committee on economic affairs okayed it in May 2018. The enhancement of budget by Rs 11,330 crore was over and above Rs 13,334 crore already approved by the cabinet committee on infrastructure in July 2012. With this, the total budget for network for defence services went up to Rs 24,664 crore.― Mydigitalfc

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