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Updated: January 28, 2014 00:56 IST

Cell towers at military station under scanner

Devesh K. Pandey
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SECURITY IMPLICATIONS: The cell-on-wheel inside Hisar Military Station.
SECURITY IMPLICATIONS: The cell-on-wheel inside Hisar Military Station.

Any security implications are being investigated

Three base transceiver stations installed by a mobile phone service provider over two years ago on the premises of the Hisar Military Station, the base headquarters of the battle formation of the 33rd Armoured Division of the Army, have come under the scanner of intelligence agencies over possible security implications.

Since no land has apparently been leased out to the private service provider, the towers stand on the chassis of heavy vehicles, called “cell-on-wheels”. According to sources, after the Army’s intelligence wing flagged the issue, an internal inquiry revealed that electricity bills running into lakhs of rupees had not been cleared.

The service provider was in June 2010 granted approval by the Signal Regiment of Hisar Cantonment to make bus shelters on the campus. As instructed by the then General Officer Commanding, approval was granted to install three modern bus shelters and three COWs. Through a letter dated July 2, 2010 the vendor had informed the Commanding Officer that during the process of building bus shelters inside the cantonment, it interacted with a few jawans and families and learnt its network strength was not good. Though people wanted to use its services, they were not doing so because of poor connectivity. Based on these findings, the vendor had proposed setting up of three COWs. The letter mentioned that Chandimadir Cantonment in Panchkula had also given the vendor permission for three COWs.

According to sources, the Army’s intelligence wing discovered that BSNL had earlier sought permission to install towers at the cantonment. In 2009, it had installed a digital exchange.

“BSNL has been providing exchanges inside military stations, dedicated lines/hotlines for communication with civilian counterparts and even back-up lines during mobilisation. Peace stations also have no civil phones,” said an official.

Army headquarters is yet to reply to queries on the issue.

. According to sources, defence land can be leased to private entities through the Quarter Master General Branch in consultation with Military Intelligence, with a mandatory authorisation from the Cabinet Committee.

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