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SC notice to Centre, BSNL on use of 2G technology in Assam, Arunachal

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Monday asked the Centre and telecom operator BSNL to respond to a plea seeking to quash an agreement for use of "outdated" in and two districts of

A bench of Justices and issued notices to the Centre and (BSNL) as the petitioner claimed that was used in these areas despite the fact that telecom regulator Trai and the DoT had themselves said it was outdated.

The plea, filed by Watchdog, has challenged the Delhi High Court's August 13 order by which its plea in the regard was dismissed.

Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, told the bench that there was a direction from the that in future, all mobile networks would be 4G but in two districts of and entire Arunachal Pradesh, were being installed.

He alleged that as per the contract for the work, the cost was Rs 80 lakh per tower but it should have been Rs 11 lakh per tower for 2G based technology.

The plea has sought to quash the agreement signed between the (DoT) and state-owned BSNL on January 16 this year mandating use of an 2G, which was being purchased at huge cost of Rs 2,258 crore from two private companies with "malafide intention".

"2G and have already been declared by Telecom Regulatory Authority of (TRAI) as 'yester-years' technology," the plea said.

It claimed that the agreement was "discriminatory" as the had last year decided to have 2G+but excluded and two districts of - Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao - for "no reason".

"Move to deploy an outdated in and two districts of Assam is to wrongly enrich two private companies at the cost of exchequer," it alleged.

The plea further said that as per the Indian Telegraphy Act, the government was obliged to provide all types of at affordable rates to rural and unconnected areas.

According to the plea, a separate universal service obligation (USO) fund, which was in operation since 2002, has an unspent amount of Rs 48,393 crore as on June 30 this year, which cannot be used for any other purposes.

USO fund is collected from the consumers of to provide financial support to operators to provide services in uncovered villages.

"Substantial public money will go down the drain if the agreement is not quashed. Such public funds cannot be allowed to be wasted in this manner in buying an for the benefit of private companies," it said.

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

First Published: Mon, October 08 2018. 19:25 IST