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eGovWatch: MoCIT to set up monitoring unit to track delays in key IT projects

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The unit will monitor projects across the three departments of the ministry — Department of Telecommunications, Department of Posts, and Department of Electronics and Information Technology

By Pranav Mukul

To curtail delays in implementation, and increase accountability for some of its key projects, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is in the process of setting up a project monitoring group, a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.

The group will monitor projects across the three departments of the ministry — Department of Telecommunications, Department of Posts, and Department of Electronics and Information Technology.
The monitoring unit, which will comprise seven to eight members, will report directly to the Minister of Communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad, the official said, adding that it would help the ministry identify the exact causes of delay in some of its flagship programmes such as BharatNet.

BharatNet, which was earlier known as National Optic Fibre Network, originally targeted to provide broadband connectivity to 1 lakh gram panchayats by March 2016, but was deferred to December 2016 due to delay on part of the implementation agencies.

Furthermore the official cited above said that to ensure timely completion of other projects such as setting up of the Postal Payments Bank and expansion of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL) network infrastructure, the group will also work on analysing issues that could arise and report it to the minister with possible solutions for the same. To modernise BSNL and to make it relevant in the competitive environment the public sector undertaking has plans to invest Rs 2,000 crore for the upgradation of its network which includes adding another 21,000 base transceiver stations, including 13,000 for its 3G services. Also, the Department of Post has slated a March 2017 launch for its payments bank, and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has moved a Cabinet note on India Post’s payment bank proposal and is likely to seek the approval of the Union Cabinet this month.

Even as the communications ministry has announced several policy decisions and programmes to improve connectivity in India, some the infrastructure projects have faced obstacles in the implementation stage. The official also said that the ministry had already taken presentations from some of the leading consultancy firms, and one of them will have representations in the monitoring group when selected. This communications ministry’s monitoring unit is expected to be on lines of the Project Monitoring Group that functions under the Prime Minister’s Office. The group is an institutional mechanism for resolving a variety of issues including fast tracking the approvals for setting up and expeditious commissioning of large public, private and public-private partnership projects.

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