Disconnect In India's Rural Telecom Fund; $4.65 Bn Lay Idle
According to him, of the 27,949.91 crore left unused, some 20,000 crore will be deployed for the national optic fibre network project and another 3,046 crore for installing 2,199 mobile towers in the nine Left-wing extremism-affected states.
"The criticism is valid for the time being. But we are evolving. As the projects start rolling out, we will need more funds," he said, adding the projects include one to link each of India's 250,000 village councils with high-speed data cables.
Mahesh Uppal, director of Com First, a leading consultancy, said it was true that money collected from operators was largely unspent and only a small fraction of it has been deployed for rural telephony so far.
"But the rules for the fund include its use for broadband too and the government will use most of it for the national optic fibre network. It is not that the money is idle. It is in the consolidated fund and is being used for other government activities," he said.
"Yes, the fund has not worked perfectly. There are some structural problems. It is very inflexible. We need to change the rules so that we can use it more creatively - that is by other entities, not just holders of telecom licenses," Uppal said.
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