Afshan Yasmeen

Despite objection, the sets will be bought at a cost of Rs. 2 crore

It is a `captive use' system exclusively for the BMPIt will be useful during emergenciesA previous Standing Committee approved the project which has been included in the 2006-2007 budgetBMP Council is yet to approve the proposal400 sets to be bought initially

BANGALORE: Despite objections from the Wireless Planning Commission of the Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) is all set to purchase a new radio communication system at a cost of over Rs. 2 crore.

This system will be for the BMP's "captive use" and for better connectivity among officials of the civic body, especially during disasters.

The project had been cleared by the previous Standing Committee on Works and Taxation and Finance and has been included in the BMP budget for 2006-2007.

Though the BMP Council is yet to approve the proposal, the officials have issued the letter of intent for the project to Arya Omni Talk Wireless Solutions (P) Ltd., which has bagged the contract.

Sources in the BMP told The Hindu on Sunday that the civic body cannot implement the project unless it obtains a "Public Mobile Radio Trunking Service" (PMRTS) licence from the Ministry of Communications.

The BMP's request for the licence has been objected to on the grounds that the civic body is not going in for the latest "digital technology", which is a must as per the new guidelines.

As per the project details, the BMP is planning to go in for "analog technology" and not the "digital technology" as the latter will be too costly. "But the analog technology is outdated as it has a lifespan of only seven years. It will be a waste of money to buy such a system," the sources said.

Director (VAS-I) of the Union Department of Telecommunications Rajvir Sharma wrote to the Commissioner K. Jothiramalingam on February 6 that the PMRTS licence cannot be issued. Mr. Sharma has also written to the Mayor Mumtaz Begum in this regard.

When contacted, Chief Operating Officer of Arya Omni Talk Wireless Solutions Manoj Kottil said the radio communication system will enable the commissioner or any top official to interact with several other officials simultaneously.

"The system will be useful for monitoring emergency work during rain. We have installed similar systems for the municipal corporations of Surat, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam," he said. Expressing concern that the BMP cannot get a PMRTS licence, he said efforts were on to impress upon the authorities that the system is for the "captive use" of BMP and not for commercial purpose.

"The cost of getting a system with digital technology will be four times more than that spent on the one with analog technology. Now, we are trying to obtain a frequency allocation of 800 MHz," he said.

Frequency licence

Admitting that the BMP is going ahead with the project, BMP Additional Commissioner (Finance) P.K. Srihari said, "There is no problem in obtaining a frequency licence from the authorities."

"At present, we have multiple wireless networks for various departments. We propose to have a single broadcast station on the Public Utility Building for better coverage and connectivity of all departments. The wireless sets being used by BMP officials will be replaced with 400 new radio sets initially. We plan to have over 10,000 sets," he added.