Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Digital India mission may trip due to lack of adequate power in Assam. To address this issue, state Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will shortly be meeting Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal. According to officials, the state presently is getting 2 MBPS internet speed whereas the requirement for a good service was that of 4 MBPS. Moreover, inadequate electricity supply was also hampering in providing internet services to the state, they said. According to officials, the state was asked by the Central Government to make use of solar energy to meet the demand but it could not solve the issue as solar power could be used only during the day and not during the night. Besides, the Additional Secretary of Department of Telecommunications N Sivasailam had also sought the Chief Minister’s intervention to provide uninterrupted power supply to the Gaon Panchayats for seamless internet connectivity. Out of 2,589 Gaon Panchayats, 1,348 were connected with optical fibre covering 4,162 km, officials said. Officials said the state government had also requested the Centre for laying cables under the river, but for this, clearance from the Environment Ministry was needed.
Mr Sonowal held a meeting with senior officers of Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) here stressing on the need for optical fibre cable connectivity through neighbouring Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar. He also asked the organisations to upgrade and amplify the bandwidth in Assam to bring the internet facility at par with major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. He said if this was done, than the far-flung areas of Assam could be brought under the ambit of internet connectivity. He also urged the DoT to raise the number of mobile towers for seamless connectivity in remote areas of the State. Notably, when the Modi Government took charge in 2014, it worked on a comprehensive telecom development plan for North-Eastern region. The government took the initiative to give a push to connect unconnected villages of region in the mobile communication network. The project proposal entailed mobile coverage in uncovered areas and along the National Highways and strengthening of transmission network in the NE Region at an estimated cost of Rs 5,336.18 crore.