Come 2013, defence and security agencies in Delhi will have a secure and foolproof communication network that will remain totally isolated from the public communication infrastructure. The project, delayed by over five years, is designed for 5,000 users.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is collecting biometric identification of those who will have access to the network. The project is likely to be completed by December 2012. After that, all the State Capitals, strategic locations and establishments will be covered.

The Department of Telecommunications’ Security Wing has asked the MHA to provide a complete list of the 5,000 users expeditiously, as only a list of 2,442 users has been provided so far. The DoT has started providing 500 secure phones (customer premises equipment connected to the system) every month.

According to sources in the MHA, the ‘soft switch’ for operating the secure communication system had been installed at North Block (which houses the MHA, the Finance Ministry, the Intelligence Bureau and some important departments) and the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) at Mehrauli in south Delhi.

C-DOT has been given the responsibility of executing the project by using the infrastructure of BSNL and MTNL.

While the system had been integrated through 16 core sites, its acceptance testing was over. Optical fibre connectivity had been provided to all the sites, including the disaster recovery site. So far, 82 secure lines have been installed and the network was operational with 60 phones in the testing phase, the sources said.

A senior MHA official said that while approving the increase in FDI in the telecom sector from 49 to 74 per cent in 2007, the government ordered the setting up of a dedicated and fully secure communication network for defence and security-related requirements within 12 months. However, it has taken more than five years to get the project completed. Strategically located districts in Jammu & Kashmir and the north-eastern region would also come under the network later, he added.

A senior DoT official said the project was being executed through BSNL and MTNL on a commercial basis, with amortization of the capital cost in the next 10 years. It had been decided to collect Rs. 2,354 per user a month. This money will be collected from user ministries and departments, along with maintenance and operation costs. Thus, around Rs. 1.18 crore would be collected every month from its users.

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