A parliamentary committee is said to have reprimanded the ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTy) for not taking action against CSC e-Governance Service India Limited, that got Rs 4000 crore worth contract for providing rural connectivity to about 1.10 lakh gram panchayats under the ambitious BharatNet Phase-I scheme.
It is learnt that the standing committee on communications and information technology in its report on demands for grants, 2023-24 which is set to be tabled on Tuesday, wondered why the department of telecommunication did not review the CSC e-Governance Service India Ltd’s inability to execute the massive project to provide the wifi and optical fibre connections to government institutions in rural areas and villages to run common service centres. Even after expiry of the agreement, the DoT has not audited the entire work executed by the company, the standing committee is believed to have observed in its report.
Sources said that rural connectivity was dissconneced over non-payment of internet leased line. Though as per the tripartite agreement reached on July 15, 2019, the CSC- special project vehicle was provided viability gap funding for offering 1 Wi-Fi and 5 FTTH connections to schools, anganwadis, ration shops, health and wellness centres, post offices in gram panchayats identified under BharatNet Phase-I, said sources.
The parliamentary panel is believed to have suggested a thorough review of the work done by CSC e-Governance Service India Ltd as per the agreement to zero-in-on lapses, if any. The company was also supposed to give free internet to panchayats for one year after creation of the telecom infrastructure, sources stated. The committee in its report, pointed out sources, has also desired that that DoT should verify how many government institutions and panchayats were offered free internet.
The committee reportedly wants the DoT to carry out an assessment of the project and submit a report to them within three months of laying the report in parliament, said sources.
The parliamentary panel also examined the common service centres services run at 1,21,133 post offices in rural areas of the country. For this, the CSC e-Governance Service India Ltd provided access to their online portal (digitalseva.csc.gov.in) for delivery of CSC services through post offices. It also trains postal staff and other backend technological support required for delivery of CSC services.
Again in this services offered by the company, the panel has found shortcomings and has recommended the ministry to fix accountability on the CSC e-Governance Service India Ltd as well, sources said.
Policy on Universal Charging Device
Taking a leaf out of global best practises, the standing committee has also recommended that the government should come out with a policy to have a universal charging device for all types of mobile phones which would reduce inconvenience caused to consumers as well as cut down on e-waste. The ministries of consumer affairs and electronics and information technology, however, is working on the issue. Other than that, TRAI has issued a consultation paper on green telecom that covers the need to have universal charging device for cell-phones, the committee was informed by the government.
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