Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology A. Raja on Saturday said a decision on the short message service (SMS) in north-eastern States and Jammu and Kashmir would be taken in consultation with the Home Ministry.

Mr. Raja said the Home Ministry had expressed its apprehensions that mobile phone signals from the neighbouring countries and telecom equipment on India's borders could be used for terrorist activities.

The Minister was talking to journalists after inaugurating a workshop on issues related to mobile services here.

“We will hold discussions with the Home Ministry and take a reasonable decision on the issue. We cannot compromise on the security of the nation,” he said, stressing that the basic communication system also should not be jeopardised.

On deactivation of SMS service in Jammu and Kashmir and its withdrawal on Friday itself, Mr. Raja said he told Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that security of the nation was paramount.

Officials of the Department of Telecom, who attended the workshop, pointed out that SMS facility in sensitive areas could be used by terrorists or miscreants.

Recalling a meeting between his Ministry and telecom operators a couple of weeks ago on complaints that operators were not able to get some equipment on time, Mr. Raja said in the name of security, telecom equipment for putting up towers could not be delayed.

While explaining the strides made in telecommunications during the UPA regime, he said 75-crore telephone connections would be achieved by 2012. The original target for 2012 was 60-crore connections and it was achieved last month.

The Minister said about 7,000 towers were installed in difficult terrain and rural areas and another 10,000 towers would be erected in the near future.

Tamil Nadu IT Minister Poongothai Aladi Aruna said the government was evolving a policy for rural BPOs, which would increase job opportunities.

As regards the mobile governance, she said the government would come out with tenders for it in a few weeks. “M-governance,” she said would allow people to get citizen services through just a phone call.


SMS ban order withdrawn April 16, 2010