Prasad flags off laying of high-speed cables linking Chennai to Port Blair

Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad

Union Minister Ravi Shankar was in Chennai today to inauguarate the laying of underwater cables for submarine optical fibre from Chennai to Port Blair, to extend high speed internet connectivity to the entire cluster of islands in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

He on Thursday also said state-owned BSNL is a strategic asset of the country and it was his mission to make it one of the top companies of India.

"....It ((BSNL) is a strategic asset of the country.

Standing in Tamil Nadu I need to recall when Chennai was suffering from huge floods... ultimately who came to the rescue.... BSNL," the minister said.

When there was a great earthquake in Nepal and when Indians were stranded there, who gave free service? BSNL, he added.

Prasad was speaking after inaugurating the cable laying work for submarine optical fibre link from Chennai to Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

The total cost of the project is Rs 1,224 crore and it is being executed by BSNL.

Prasad also said that during the (recent) cyclone in Odisha and floods in Kashmir,it was BSNL which came to the rescue and when there is a strategic need for the defence (sector), it is BSNL.

"BSNL is not a mobile company or telephone company simply set up. It is a part of a strategic asset of India," he added.

Prasad also said it was his mission to make BSNL one of the top companies in Chennai.

"When in 2014 I was minister of communication,my priority was to bring BSNL to operating profit. I brought it.

It is my mission to make BSNL one of the top companies of India. All of you have to work with me. I am very clear about it."

Stating that he had given a 'very robust' VRS package, Prasad said about 78,000 BSNL employees and 15,000 of MTNL had taken it.

"It is because it is the best ever package given to PSU employees," the Minister said.

Prasad said he expected BSNL to execute this project by May-June or make it before that to show to the world what it was capable of and that "it has finally risen from slumber."

The Minister also said that laying of optical fibre cable between the mainland (Chennai) and Andaman & Nicobar islands was a milestone in the history of India.

The project will play a significant role in achieving the objective of 'Digital India' and 'BharatNet' and for rolling out various e-governance projects of the Central government in the islands.

The Minister also said the Digital Commission had approved submarine fibre cable connectivity between Kochi and Lakshadweep island.

The submarine optical fibre connectivity between Chennai and Andaman Nicobar islands is being undertaken to meet the growing bandwidth demand of the islands.

The project envisages connectivity from Chennai to Port Blair and seven other islands-Havelock, Long Island, Rangat, Hut Bay, Car Nicobar, Kamorta and Campbell Bay.

Andaman & Nicobar Lt Governor Admiral D K Joshi and officials of BSNL were present.

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