Published on: July 9, 2021



What is in news : The Union Cabinet approved a viability gap funding support for the implementation of the BharatNet project through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model in 16 States.

Details :

The project –

  • Will be extended to all inhabited villages beyond the gram panchayats in 16 States — Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Include creation, upgrading, operation, maintenance and utilisation of BharatNet by the concessionaire or the private sector partner, who will be selected by a competitive international bidding process.
  • Private sector partner is expected to bring an equity investment and raise resources towards capital expenditure and for operation and maintenance of the network.

BENEFIT : Extension to all inhabited villages will enable better access to e-services offered by various governments, enable online education, telemedicine, skill development, e-commerce and other applications of broadband


  • Implemented by : Ministry of Communications
  • Why : Connect all of India’s households, particularly in rural areas, through broadband , forming the backbone of the government’s ambitious Digital India programme.
  • Contents :
    • Earlier National Optical Fibre Network or NOFN failed due to slow implementation. NOFN is now rebranded as Bharat Net.
    • At present, a special purpose vehicle, Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL), under the telecom ministry is handling the roll out of optical fibre network.
    • The project is being executed by BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid
    • It is world’s largest rural broadband connectivity programme using Optical fibre
    • The project is being funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

Viability Gap Funding (VGF) Scheme

  • Grant to support projects that are economically justified but not financially viable.
  • Designed as a Plan Scheme to be administered by the Ministry of Finance and amount in the budget are made on a year-to-year basis.
  • Provided as a capital subsidy to attract the private sector players to participate in PPP projects that are otherwise financially unviable.
  • Projects may not be commercially viable because of the long gestation period and small revenue flows in future.
  • Scheme was launched in 2004 to support projects that come under Public-Private Partnerships.