Centre will pay to set up mobile towers in Naxal areas | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Centre will pay to set up mobile towers in Naxal areas

In a bid to fight Naxals, the government has decided to provide money to telecom operators to set up mobile towers in the worst naxal affected areas. Chetan Chauhan reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 25, 2011 23:04 IST
Chetan Chauhan

In a bid to fight Naxals, the government has decided to provide money to telecom operators to set up mobile towers in the worst naxal affected areas.

The money for setting up towers will be provided from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to both public and private operators, to improve connectivity in the 60 worst Naxal affected areas.

The Naxals have destroyed close to 100 mobile towers in the last four years in a dozen Maoist infested districts, resulting in losses of crores to telecom companies. Attack on mobile towers is a recent phenomenon.

“As the telecom companies were not willing to pay the cost of setting up the towers, the government has decided to pay for it,” a senior government official said during an interaction with district magistrates of 60 worst Naxal affected areas this week.

“The telecom ministry is working with us for identifying the areas where mobile towers can be set up.”

While the public sector Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has its network in Naxal affected areas, private operators have been reluctant citing frequent bombing of mobile towers by Naxals.

Sudha Pillai, who heads the empowered group on modifying existing schemes for Naxal affected areas and is member Planning Commission, instructed the district magistrates to identify security establishments where mobile towers can be set up.

“Now the government has decided to set up mobile towers in police establishments and you (district magistrates) should help in improving mobile connectivity,” she said.

Under the plan, the government will provide full capital cost for setting up over 1,800 mobile towers in Naxal affected areas. A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting under telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar this month.

The money will be provided from the USO fund which is aimed at providing broadband network in far-flung areas of the country. Before the money is released each telecom operator will have to submit a detailed plan to the Central government.