Govt plans to install 4,072 mobile towers in Naxal-hit areas
The telecom commission has approved the proposal to install the 4,072 mobile towers in the 10 states under the mobile tower phase-II scheme and a cabinet note is being circulated for it.
The approval of the Union cabinet is expected any time soon, a home ministry official said.
In the first phase, which was completed about two years ago, 2,329 mobile towers were installed at a cost of Rs 3,167 crore in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The additional towers will strengthen the telecom network resulting in increased mobile penetration in Left Wing Extremism-affected and other areas facing security challenges.
The exact cost of the fresh endeavour is not immediately known but the expenses are expected to be borne by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) of the Department of Telecommunications.
The operational expenses for running the towers will be part of the project cost, the official said.
Of the 4,072 mobile towers, 1,054 will be installed in Jharkhand, 1,028 in Chhattisgarh, 483 in Odisha, 429 in Andhra Pradesh, 412 in Bihar, 207 in West Bengal, 179 in Uttar Pradesh, 136 in Maharashtra, 118 in Telangana and 26 in Madhya Pradesh.
The objective of the USOF is to provide widespread and non-discriminatory access to quality Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services at affordable prices to people in rural and remote areas.
Besides, the fund is aimed at providing effective and powerful linkage to the hinterland thereby mainstreaming the population of rural and remote parts of the country.
Giving details of the developmental activities in Naxal-hit areas, another official said a total of 4,544 km of roads have been constructed till March 1, 2018, out of the sanctioned 5,422 km roads.
An additional 5,411 km roads are planned to be constructed at a cost of Rs 10,780 crore.
As of now, out of the 90 districts affected by the Maoists problem, 30 were termed as worst-hit.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba has said that 44 districts in the country are no longer under the influence of Maoists or have negligible presence and most of the Left Wing Extremism is now confined only to 30 worst-hit districts.
He said the geographical spread of the LWE violence has shrunk significantly in the last four years due to a multi-pronged strategy involving security and development-related measures.
Gauba said significant features of the anti-Naxal policy were zero tolerance towards violence coupled with a big push to developmental activities so that benefits of new roads, bridges, telephone towers reach the poor and the vulnerable in the affected areas.