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Govt cancels Rs 19,000-cr tender for connecting villages in 16 states

State-owned Bharat Broadband Nigam Limited (BBNL) has canceled a tender worth Rs 19,000 crore to connect villages in 16 states with optical fiber-based high-speed broadband network due to lack of participation from qualified bidders.

The project was approved in June last year under BharatNet to launch optical fiber network in 16 states in a public-private partnership model with a total outlay of Rs 29,430 crore.

The government had approved a viability gap fund of Rs 19,041 crore for the project, which aims to connect 3.61 lakh villages in 16 states.

The project was divided into nine packages, and separate tenders were issued for each package.

For each of the nine tenders, BBNL said on February 8 that the tender of the respective package is “with all its corrigendums rejected for non-participation by any of the bidders”.

An e-mail query sent to BBNL did not elicit any response.

However, an official source said that some firms had participation, the bids were evaluated; But the participants failed to qualify.

The source, on condition of anonymity, said, “After taking feedback from the industry, the tender will be floated again.” The government is committed to connect the villages with broadband at the earliest.

The government opted for public-private partnership after the state-owned firms faced several issues and missed several deadlines in expediting projects.

The BharatNet project was approved as a National Optical Fiber Network in 2011, with an aim to connect all 2.5 lakh panchayats with an optical fiber network by 2013.

The project has now been extended till 2025.

According to official data, more than 1.69 lakh Gram Panchayats have been made ready for broadband services under BharatNet as of December 31, 2021. Anand Market

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