The Union Cabinet on Tuesday cleared a proposal to install 2,199 mobile towers in nine Left-Wing-Extremism-affected States at a cost of over Rs.3,000 crore. The towers will come up in locations identified by the Home Ministry in the next 15 months.
Notably, it was The Hindu that first reported last week that Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal cleared the file for providing “mobile services in areas affected by the Left-Wing- Extremism” in just two days after the May 25 massacre of senior Chhattisgarh Congress leaders by Maoists in Bastar.
The ambitious project has been hanging fire for the past three years. “The project would be executed by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited. BSNL has already installed towers at 363 locations. Universal Service Obligation Fund would fund the capital expenditure and operational expenditure net of revenue for five years. Maximum outgo from the USO Fund is estimated to be Rs.3,046.12 crore,” an official release said.
Installation and roll-out of services in these areas is targeted to be completed in 12 months after amendments to the Indian Telegraph Rules and signing of an agreement with BSNL, which will take about three months.