In a bid to fight naxals, the government has decided to provide money to the telecom operators to set up mobile towers in security establishment in worst naxal affected areas.
The money for setting up towers will be provided from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to both public and private operators to improve connectivity in the 60 worst Naxal affected areas.
"The telecom ministry is working with us for identifying the areas where mobile towers can be set up," a senior home ministry official said during an interaction with district magistrates of 60 worst Naxal affected areas this week.
While public sector Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has its network in Naxal affected areas, the private operators have been reluctant to set up their network citing frequent bombing of mobile towers by naxals. In the past few years, over 100 towers had been blown off by Maoists to hamper vital communication network which helps the police in tracking 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 2,000 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 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.