Lack of cell phone towers: 143 areas in east UP’s Sonbhadra district in a blind spot
As many as 143 areas in Sonbhadra district of eastern Uttar Pradesh lack cell phone network towers, leaving many villages and even a few police stations in a blind spot from the communications perspective.
Situated in picturesque surroundings, the Jugail police station in the district is one of those affected by the problem. As a result, police personnel like station officer inspector Arvind Mishra and others have to go 12 km to catch the cell phone signals from the nearest tower on a hill at Chaura in the Jugail area. Chaura is on the Uttar Pradesh-Madhya Pradesh border.
“This is true. Jugail police station and the adjoining areas lack cell phone network. We have to go far from the police station to catch the network,” says Mishra.
He adds that he can’t contact the beat constables when they go patrolling in the villages, neither are they able to get in touch with him. Machi is another such police station.
Like Jugail police station, some of the 143 areas that do not have a cell phone network include Rampur Barkonia, Machi, Parsoi, Kanhara, Bairpur, Teritain, Pachpendia, Panaura, Aamdih, Chanani, Kuldomari, a few locations each in Ghorawal, Windhhamganj and Duddhi.
At several of these places, the locals have to trudge four to five kilometres to catch the network.
Mahendra Mishra, a resident of Gothani in Jugail area of Sonbhadra, says, “I have to go five km from my village to get mobile signals. Imagine the kind of ordeal we go through daily!”
Jagat Vishwakarma, who often visits these locations, says residents in many pockets of Jugail, Maachi, Myorpur and Duddhi face inconvenience due to the problem.
“Whenever I visit these areas, my cell phone becomes just like a toy due to the lack of a network. In many far-flung pockets, the mobile network comes and goes,” he says.
Additional superintendent of police (Sonbhadra) Rajiv Singh says, “A letter has been written to BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) for taking the steps required to provide a mobile network in the police stations in the far-flung and rough terrain of Sonbhadra.”
Locals and police personnel flagged the issue before the district administration several times in the last few years.
The Sonbhadra district administration has started efforts to resolve the issue of lack of cell phone networks in 143 areas of which 63 are on tough terrains in far flung pockets, says a senior official.
District magistrate Abhishek Singh held a meeting with BSNL officials recently and asked them about measures to address the issue, says the official.
A senior BSNL official told them a survey was carried out at the instructions of the then district magistrate S Rajalingam by a team of officials with technical expert of BSNL over nine months ago to find out if there was a really lack of mobile network in several pockets of the district. The survey revealed the need to install 143 cell phone network towers in the remote areas.
Chief developmental officer (Sonbhadra) Amit Pal Sharma says, “Mobile network towers will be set up in the far-flung areas of the district in near future. Various steps have already been taken.”
Sharma says district magistrate Abhishek Singh is taking keen interest in addressing the problem and things are moving fast.
A senior official says the communication required for setting up the towers has already been done with the department of telecommunication and the Union ministry of home affairs through the UP government.
The officer says the district administration is mulling over using funds from District Mineral Foundation (DMF), if required, for setting up the towers.
According to a senior official of the telecom department, on an average, it costs around ₹80 lakh to set up a mobile tower.
Junior telecom officer (Sonbhadra) DK Singh says, “The department will provide technical support required for setting up mobile network towers in the remote areas whenever the district administration asks for it.”
Soon after towers are set up, the network problem will be solved, he says.