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EC to rely on satellite phones in naxal-hit areas

With the ambitious Centre-sponsored mobile tower project in nine naxal-affected States still stuck in bureaucratic wrangles, the Election Commission will have to rely on ‘digital satellite phone terminals’ (DSPTs) supplied by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to ensure violence-free polls in Left wing extremism (LWE)-hit areas.

For hassle-free polls

“DSPTs are earmarked for providing village telephone connectivity in specific villages (affected by Naxal terror). These DSPTs could be placed at the disposal of State governments for smooth conduct of the general elections. After the elections are concluded, these DSPTs could be re-located to the earmarked villages by BSNL,” Telecom Secretary M.F. Farooqui has written to Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami while responding to the latter’s mail regarding the urgency to bolster communication arrangements for the smooth conduct of the general elections 2014 in the LWE-affected areas.

Joint efforts

“BSNL has instructed the Chief General Managers in the LWE States to liaise with the State governments to identify the locations and provide necessary support for transport of equipment and safe custody of DSPTs for the period of elections ... I would like to assure you that this Department will assist the Ministry of Home Affairs and State governments in the smooth conduct of general elections in the LWE affected areas to the extent possible,” Mr. Farooqui said in his letter.

There are around 50 DSPTs in each naxal-affected state, while paramilitary forces deployed in these States also carry there own satellite phones to stay connected.

Apart from DSPTs, the Union Home Ministry has been pushing for truck-mounted mobile towers to be deployed for elections to strengthen communication network and help the security forces, polling officials and State administration to stay connected, particularly in remote and difficult terrains.

However, in the last Assembly elections in December 2013, the Home Ministry sought truck-mounted mobile towers from the DoT, which did not materialise.




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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 6:59:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ec-to-rely-on-satellite-phones-in-naxalhit-areas/article5832288.ece

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