For the first time in India, solar power will be extensively used to run 2,200 mobile towers to be set up in nine Naxal-affected areas.
The mobile towers, to be set up at a cost of Rs 3,216 crore, will be operated without any support from electricity or generators. This is for the first time in India that green energy will be used so extensively to run such a large number of telecom towers, official sources said. Solar energy will be used to avoid interruption of electricity supply, which is irregular in most of the areas. Diesel-run generator sets create lots of pollution in addition to the problem of regular supply of fuel. A technology developed indigenously by an Indian vendor will feed the towers with solar power to function normally in addition to charging the battery simultaneously.
On August 20, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for the project to be implemented in one year. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been pushing for installation of mobile towers in Naxal-hit areas since 2010. The absence of mobile services has made it tough for security forces to operate and get timely help in critical situations, leading to loss of lives in some incidents. The lack of telecom infrastructure in Left wing extremism affected states — Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh — severely compromises the position of the security forces vis-a-vis the Maoist ultras.
Most of the towers will be set up in secured locations like police stations or camps of security forces so that the extremists cannot target them for destruction.