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The Union Cabinet on June 30 approved the revised implementation strategy of BharatNet through public-private partnership mode in 16 states.

BharatNet will now extend up to all inhabited villages beyond gram panchayats in the Northeast states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh.

An official statement said that BharatNet, also called Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), will also cover Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.

An estimated 3.61 lakh villages including gram panchayats will be covered.

There are 41,728 villages in the Northeast states, according to 2001 census data.

The approval comes after Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the revised strategy and the additional allocation on June 28.

BharatNet plan to cost Rs 19,041 crore

The revised strategy also includes creation, upgradation, operation, maintenance and utilisation of BharatNet by the concessionaire who will be selected by a competitive international bidding process.

The estimated maximum viability gap funding approved for the above PPP model is Rs 19,041 crore.

The Cabinet also accorded an in-principle approval for extending internet cover to all inhabited villages in the remaining states and Union Territories. The Department of Telecommunications would separately workout the modalities for the remaining states and Union Territories.

Further, the states where PPP Model is envisaged, will facilitate free Right of Way.

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