Rs. 20,000-cr. project to link every panchayat in the country

The Centre has asked the States to forego the levy on right of way for laying optic fibre under the national programme to roll out broadband connectivity to 2.50 lakh villages in the country, Union Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot said on Monday.

Launching the new consolidated R&D facility at Alcatel-Lucent India, Mr. Pilot said the Rs. 20,000-crore project proposed to interlink every panchayat in the country through the optic fibre network in two years.

“This is largest ever IT infrastructure project of its kind in independent India. We have written to State governments, stating their only participation is to give free right of way…so that the cost becomes somewhat mitigated and we are able to reach panchayats without having to pay the Government,” he said. Noting that there was a new National Telecom Policy in place, Mr. Pilot said the Government was also giving shape to a National IT Policy and a National Electronic Hardware Policy.

IT growth

Mr. Pilot said India’s IT growth would be slower this fiscal (2012-13), pegging it at around 17 per cent.

“We project IT growth to be around 17 per cent, which is not bad. Earlier, the industry was growing 30 per cent a year for about 10 years. But it has slowed down a bit,” he said.

Observing that two-thirds of India’s IT exports went to the US, Mr. Pilot said IT companies had to focus on new geographies for exporting software services to achieve the target of reaching $ 300 billion by 2020. At present, over 60 per cent of the $ 100 billion business in software exports went to the US.

“We must look at other countries and continents like Africa, Asia, East Europe and China. We must diversify (exports) where we send our IT services,” he said.

One of the key features of the electronic hardware policy would be the stipulation that manufacturers should source a portion of their raw material from within the country, he said.

According to Mr. Pilot, voice and SMS would be replaced by data services, information and entertainment applications in the second phase of the telecom revolution in India, which had more than 93 crore mobile phone users.