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The Cabinet on Wednesday approved public private partnership mode for the rollout of BharatNet project for broadband services in villages in 16 states with viability gap funding of 19,041 crore. Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the total expense will be 29,430 crore to cover around 3,60,000 villages in the 16 states, which includes 19,041 crore to be spent by the government for the viability gap funding.

Prasad said the decision to involve private players was taken after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on August 15, 2020 that around 6 lakh villages in the country will be connected with broadband in 1,000 days. He said till date, 1.56 lakh out of the 2.5 lakh village panchayats have been connected with broadband.

Separately, the cabinet has also approved Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme;scheme seeks to improve operational efficiencies & financial sustainability of all DISCOMs/ Power Departments excluding Private Sector DISCOMs by providing conditional financial assistance for strengthening of supply infra.

Scheme outlay of 3,03,758 crore with an estimated GBS from Central Government of Rs.97,631 crore; assistance will be based on meeting pre-qualifying criteria as well as upon achievement of basic minimum benchmarks by DISCOM.

Meanwhile, export insurance cover of 1.22 lakh crore scheme is also approved by Cabinet along with reform-based, result-linked power discom scheme. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved a five-year-long reform-based result-linked power distribution scheme worth 3.03 lakh crore.

Briefing after the CCEA meet here, Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said, "We have done a lot for power distribution reforms. It needs to be strengthened. Today, the Cabinet has approved the new scheme worth 3.03 lakh crore, including 97,000 crore central outlay."

He said the funds would be given to power distribution companies (discoms) to strengthen their system. The Reform-Based Result-Linked Power Distribution Scheme was announced in Budget earlier this year.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Cabinet has today also given approval to the decision announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman two days ago.

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