Northeast Telecom Delay Concerns Prime Minister’s Office
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has expressed concern over delay in implementation of critical telecom infrastructure work in the northeast, and has given instructions to hasten projects that are estimated to cost upwards of Rs 5,300 crore.
According to sources in the telecom ministry, the projects in northeast — one tendered through state-owned BSNL and the other by a government agency (further given to the Bharti Group) — envisage provision of mobile coverage to 8,621 villages, installation of 321 mobile tower sites, and strengthening of transmission network in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
However, while the project being undertaken by the Bharti Group has seen some progress, the one allotted to BSNL — covering Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam, and worth Rs 2,250 crore — is still languishing with years of delay, prompting the nudge from the PMO. The principal secretary in the PMO had recently chaired a meeting where the review of the project was undertaken.
“The slow progress in Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP), specially for Meghalaya, Arunachal and two districts of Assam was noted with concern,” a source said, while briefing about the PMO’s views.
The PMO also said since no stay has been granted by the Supreme Court on a special leave petition regarding the NE work, “delay in implementation of the project was avoidable”. The matter will now be decided by the Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the highest decision-making body on telecom matters, at its meeting on Tuesday. The plan had originally been approved by the Cabinet in September 2014, but has been going slow due to bureaucratic delays, lengthy tendering processes and even legal challenges.―Times of India
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