Govt Splits BBNL, USO (F) Top Posts To Speed Up Projects

Government has split the post of CMD and USO Fund Administration (USOF) and has appointed Sarvesh Singh of Indian Railways Signal Services Engineering (IRSSE) for a period of five years at Bharat Broadband Network Ltd , in an indication to speed up the implementation of the Centrally funded telecom projects across the country which has either been delayed or stalled.

Singh’s name was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Appointment (ACC) on Tuesday evening. This is the second major change at the BBNL which is the implementing and monitoring agency of government telecom projects.  BBNL works with the telecom PSU — BSNL to execute communications project for the government.  Earlier Bihar cadre IAS  Anshuli Arya was appointed as the USO (F) administrator.

The earlier incumbent Sanjay Singh was heading both BBNL and USO (Fund).

These changes were imminent after Department of Telecom expressed dissatisfaction over PMO’s flagship programme BharatNet’s phase I infrastructure utilization issues and slow progress on  BharatNet phase II competition, now going even to miss the March 2019 deadline. BharatNet was to connect 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats with high-speed broadband across the country.

There are various telecom projects — BharatNet -II, North East Phase -II, Meghalaya (2G+4G), LWE Extension — Phase II, Uncovered Aspirational Villages and Border Areas and Andaman and Nicobar which have been running late though in some of the cases like in Uncovered Aspirational Villages and Border Areas and in Andaman and Nicobar, the approval came as back as in 2014,  still there has not been much action. In case of Left Wing Extremist areas —  phase II, 2G technology, it was given a go-ahead by Ministry of Home Affairs for the deployment of close to 2700 sites in August of 2014 which were later increased to 4072 and finally approved by the Cabinet in May 2018 and the deadline was 18 months from the signing of the agreement. This project is running  4.5 years late and the current status is technology finalized and no further action has been taken.  In case of Meghalaya – 2G+4G project, the retendering is yet to start and it has been four years since the project was taken up and in between its cost has gone up from Rs 1378 crore to Rs 3911 crore.

In case of North East Phase -II 2G technology, which was approved by Cabinet in September 2014, after which USOF suggested to go for open bidding involving TSPs even though it is BSNL which bags such projects. Concerns were raised by some firms that even the technical specifications were changed in this case as against the ones approved by the Cabinet. The project delayed by 4 years is awaiting Purchase Order from USOF.―Communications Today

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