Government Cancels Rs 19,000 Crore Rural Broadband Connectivity Bid For Lack Of Bidders

Government called off a tender for providing rural broadband connectivity due to lack of bidders
Government called off a tender for providing rural broadband connectivity due to lack of bidders

State-owned Bharat Broadband Nigam Limited (BBNL) has cancelled a Rs 19,000-crore tender that was floated for connecting villages across 16 states with an optical fibre-based high-speed broadband network, following the lack of participation of eligible bidders.

The project was approved in June last year to roll out an optical fibre network under BharatNet in 16 states in a public-private partnership model with a total expense of Rs 29,430 crore.

Government had approved a viability gap fund of Rs 19,041 crore for the project that aimed to connect 3.61 lakh villages across 16 states.

The project was divided into nine packages, and tenders for each of the packages were floated separately.

For each of the nine tenders, BBNL on February 8 said the tender of the corresponding package "with all its corrigenda is hereby cancelled on account of non-participation by any bidder".

An e-mail query sent to BBNL elicited no response.

However, an official source said that there was participation from some firms, bids were evaluated; but the participants failed to qualify.

"The tender will be floated again after taking feedback from the industry. The government is committed to connecting villages with broadband at the earliest," the source, who did not wish to be named, said.

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

The BharatNet project was approved in 2011 as the National Optical Fibre Network with an aim to connect all 2.5 lakh panchayats with the optical fibre network by 2013.

The project now has been extended to 2025 now.

According to official data, over 1.69 lakh village panchayats have been made service-ready for broadband services under BharatNet as of December 31, 2021.