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DoT to fast-track mobile projects in Northeast, J&K, Andaman

IANS  |  New Delhi 

The (DoT) has chalked out plans to speed up USO funded mobile connectivity projects by resolving the unsettled issues relating to the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, and Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, and the border areas on a priority basis, according to an internal action plan report of the DoT .

The key project to watch out for would be mobile connectivity in and parts of Assam, which is pending for the last five years after approval.

All these projects run by the government of are funded by the Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund (USOF), a corpus having accumulated cess from the telcos which is currently a Rs 50,000 crore fund.

"The proposal under submission is for resolving issues pertaining to the BSNL tender for implementation of mobile services in and two districts of Assam, as the projects are stalled after the issuance of APO (Advance Purchase Order) due to a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the and other issues," said an internal note of the DoT.

The and projects got stuck after an SLP was filed in the against the use of 2G technology, terming it as outdated.

Ninong Ering, Congress' from Arunachal East, had also raised the issue of old technology. The too refused to fund the project, saying was old and obsolete.

But looking at the difficult terrains in the northeastern states, 2G-based mobile service is said to be suitable for the uncovered regions there in the absence of backhaul where advanced technology may be found to be underutilised.

BSNL, the executing agency for 2,817 mobile towers, also supported this view and had said in its submission to the that the SLP was misconceived while the use 2G and together was mandated only in May 2018, much later than the awarding of the contract.

These issues have been left unresolved for some time now, and can be expected to be resolved in the near future. The Northeast project was approved in 2014, but it has still not seen the light of day as the SLP and bureaucratic delays have stalled it.

There are also other projects under the pipeline, where some actions are now envisaged after much delay.

The DoT note also stated that part of the immediate agenda are "approval of the Digital Communication Comission (DCC) for provision of mobile services in uncovered villages and National Highways of and Leftwing Extremist (LWE) areas Phase II as per cabinet approval and floating of request for proposal (RFP), and capacity augmentation in and Lakshadweep."

The DoT's immediate action plan also includes finalisation of a list of uncovered villages in 115 Aspirational Districts and the preparation of the DCC note.

The DoT will also prepare the tender document and issue an NIT (notice inviting tender) for provisioning mobile services in the uncovered areas of Ladakh and Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir, the border areas and other priority areas, it said.Anjana Das can be contacted at anjana.d@ians.in

--IANS

ana/arm

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, May 17 2019. 20:20 IST
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