Union Cabinet Decisions Today: Mobile Connectivity Scheme for Uncovered Villages Approved

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs met on November 17, Wednesday to announce a host of decisions regarding the telecom sector and road connectivity to areas that are not well-connected. Speaking at a Cabinet committee briefing on the issue, Union minister Anurag Singh Thakur on the day announced that as many as 7,287 villages of 44 aspirational districts across Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Odisha will get mobile tower connectivity soon. The villages will be provided with 4G internet connections, the minister said. The project is expected to be worth Rs 6,466 crore, he added, while speaking at the briefing. The decisions were taken at a CCEA meeting chaired by PM Narendra Modi.

The Cabinet also approved continuation of Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas (RCPLWEA) upto March, 2023. It gave its approval to the proposals of Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development for continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-I and II up to September 2022 for completion of balance road and bridge works.

According to a press release by the Press Information Bureau, “The Road Connectivity Project of Left Wing Extremism affected Areas (RCPLWEA) was started in 2016 to improve connectivity in 44 LWE affected districts in 9 states. 5,714 Km road length 358 bridge works are balance for completion and another 1,887 Km road length and 40 bridges are being sanctioned. The scheme is being extended upto March, 2023 for completion of these projects, which are very critical from communication and security point of view.”

The scheme was launched in 2016 for construction or upgradation of 5,412 km road length and 126 bridges of strategic importance in 44 districts in nine states. These include Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. Of this, 4,490 km road length and 105 bridges have already been completed. The project has an outlay of Rs 11,725 ​​crore.

Meanwhile, the mobile connectivity project will be completed within 18 months after the signing of the Agreement and likely to be completed by November 2023. The work related to provision of 4G mobile services in identified uncovered villages will be awarded through open competitive bidding process as per extant USOF procedures.

“The present proposal for provisioning of mobile services in the remote & difficult uncovered areas of Aspirational Districts across five states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra & Odisha will enhance digital connectivity useful for self-reliance, facilitate learning, dissemination of information and knowledge, skill upgradation and development, disaster management, e-governance initiatives, establishment of enterprises & e-commerce facilities, provision of adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing & availability of job opportunity and fulfilling the vision of Digital India promoting domestic manufacturing and fulfilling the objectives of Atmanirbhar Bharat etc,” said PIB in a statement.

The project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), the government announced on Wednesday.

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