New Delhi: The crucial issue of installing mobile towers in nine naxal-affected states, which has been pending for long now, and strengthening of telecom connectivity in North Eastern states will be the next key matters of the telecom ministry before the cabinet.
"The Department of Telecom has completed drafting of Cabinet note on these two (mobile services in naxal areas and North East states) issues. It should come before the Cabinet soon, probably in the next Cabinet meeting," an official source told PTI.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has been pushing for installation of mobile towers in Naxal-hit areas since 2010.
The absence of mobile services has made it tough for security forces to operate and get timely help in critical situations, leading to loss of lives in some incidents.
Soon after a Maoist attack at Bastar in Chhattisgarh in which 27 people, including senior Congress leaders, were killed, the then Cabinet in June 2013 approved setting up mobile towers at a cost of around Rs 3,046 crore in nine states affected by the naxal violence to better communication.
In a brazen daytime attack, Naxals on 11 March last year ambushed a security team killing 15 personnel including 11 of the CRPF and also a civilian in a chilling reminder of the 2010 massacre of 76 security-men in the same area in the worst-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.
The mobile installation project was to be completed by June but its progress was stuck due to difference of actual bids and project cost approved by then UPA government.
Last month, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Parliament had said that the towers would be installed in these areas in another 15 months. According to the minister, the project cost discovered by BSNL for setting up mobile towers in the naxal-affected states is "Rs 3,567.58 crore".
The government has identified areas in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
Further, the DoT has estimated that it would have to invest about Rs 5,100 crore to improve telecom services in the North Easte states. The fund plans to set up over 8,000 mobile towers in the region.
Both these proposals need the cabinet approval to take off.
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Updated Date: Aug 04, 2014 19:38:05 IST