HT Explainer | Untangling the overhead cable mess in Chandigarh
The removal of overhead internet cables remained a flashpoint between the Chandigarh municipal commissioner and councillors during Tuesday’s House meeting. What is the bone of contention and what’s the stance of various parties involved? Hindustan Times explains
.What’s the issue?
Around three years ago, some telecom companies illegally installed overhead internet cables across the city, without having the right of way. As per municipal corporation (MC) norms, overhead cables are allowed only for TV connections. But the telecom companies installed the internet cables along with the TV cables, without tagging them. Apart from being an eyesore, the loosely hanging cables are a threat to commuters.
When did matter come to light?
In January 2020, some councillors lodged a complaint with the then MC commissioner about the cables. In February 2020, the MC House passed a resolution to remove all illegal internet cables but due to the pandemic, the drive could not be conducted. Later, it was decided that the companies will have to take permission from the civic body for installing the cables, and that too only for underground internet cables.
What prompted MC chief to take stringent action
In June this year, MC commissioner Anindita Mitra issued public notices to the companies concerned, asking them to remove the cables within 15 days. The companies, however, did not adhere to the directions following which another notice was served to them, giving them an ultimatum to remove the cables by October 31.
The notice stated that apart from ₹10,000 penalty, the violators would have to bear the expenses incurred on removing the cables or wires. As no companies came forward, the MC engineering wing, in the first week of November, started a drive and pulled out the overhead cables in around 10 sectors. Mitra said since the companies have not tagged their cables, at some places, TV cables were also disconnected.
Why councillors’ raised a hue and cry over the action?
The General House meeting on November 29 heated up after the councillors condemned the MC commissioner’s move, stating that the abrupt snapping of the internet cables caused inconvenience for the residents, especially those who were still working from home and students who had online classes and exams. They alleged that MC chief went ahead with the action even as the finance and contract committee (F&CC), in a meeting in October, had decided to put the action on hold. The MC commissioner said that she “cannot let the mafia rule the city” and that sufficient time had been given to the telecom companies for submitting application and depositing money. She added that the decision was taken for the benefit of the civic body, which is facing a financial crunch.
MC commissioner Mitra said the companies should first submit their applications seeking the civic body’s permit and deposit their dues, only then the House will decide how much time is to be given to them for laying the underground cables. The drive will, however, continue, said the MC chief.