The government has approved a proposal to install telecom towers in 10 states in the country facing Left Wing Extremism at a cost of Rs 3,567.18 crore, Parliament was informed yesterday.
Minister of Communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad in a written reply to Lok Sabha said Cabinet approved a proposal to install mobile towers at 2,199 locations identified by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the 10 states. The state identified are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, which are affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), he added. “BSNL has been nominated to execute the work. The revised project cost of Rs 3,567.58 crore has been recommended for approval by the Telecom Commission in its meeting on June 13, 2014,” Prasad said.
The Telecom Commission has in the same meeting also approved a proposal to implement comprehensive telecom development plan for North Eastern region at an estimated project cost of Rs 5,336.18 crore, he added. “BSNL is expanding its network through installation of 8,784 base transceivers stations (BTSs) for 2G and 3G services in rural parts as part of its Phase-VII expansion plan at a cost of Rs 1,704 crore,” the Minister said.
These plans are being implemented by the government with financial support from the Universal Service obligation Fund (USOF), he said. During June 2007 to November 2013, 7,317 mobile towers have been installed with the financial support of USOF under the Share Mobile infrastructure. Replying to a separate question, the Minister said USOF has released a grant of Rs 919 crore for National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) project to date and the executing agency Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) has utilised Rs 463 crore so far on the project.
BBNL, which is a special purpose vehicle (SPV), has three partners — BSNL, Railtel and Power grid Corporation of India (PGCIL). “The target for the completion of the project is March 2017 for connecting over 2.3 lakh gram panchayats with broadband services. Of which 50,000 gram pachayats will be connected by March 2015, one lakh by March 2016 and the balance by March 2017,” Prasad said.