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Optical fiber illusion

Optical fiber cables are always in the spotlight in the city. Now, cable providers have a new task cut of for them — staking claim to the security deposit they had given to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) at the start of work. The BBMP has come up with a new set of conditions for private companies who are requesting reimbursement of security deposits close to Rs 100 crore. The move has left telecom firms fuming.

A company that gets approval to dig up roads to lay cables is required to pay a security deposit to the BBMP, which is returned as soon as the service providers restore the road to its original condition. As proof, the companies have to issue non-objection certificate (NOC) from the jurisdiction engineer concerned, a third party inspection report and ‘as built’ drawings as prescribed in the agreement.

Making matters worse, the BBMP has now sought four additional documents for the work carried out in the past, some of which date back to 2014 and 2015.

In its letter to all the OFC service providing companies issued earlier this month, the BBMP has stated that the security deposit would be returned only if the firms provide following documents: total station survey locating the cable position (chambers and manholes), latitude and longitude details in GIS format, the cable position (including depth, number of cables, ducts, fibres, dia of the ducts) etc.

The letter states that these documents were already mentioned under section 5 (consolidated network plans) and section 10.7 (as-built drawing) of BBMP’s OFC rules. The BBMP has also reminded the operators that it would deduct the penalty amount from the security deposit in the case the OFC operator was found digging up the road illegally.

The BBMP wrote the letter with “additional conditions” after its OFC division got flooded with requests to reimburse security deposit. All the major telecom players have around Rs 20 crore to Rs 40 crore parked as security deposit in the BBMP, it’s learnt.

Not in the agreement
The new set of conditions, OFC service providers said, were not part of the rules in the past. “All we have now is the NOC from the engineer, thirty party inspection report and in-built drawing. How can we give latitude and longitude data for works that were carried out 6-7 years ago? This condition was not part of the agreement,” a senior executive working for a major telecom firm, said.

How can we give latitude and longitude data for works that were carried out six or seven years ago? This condition was not part of the original agreement
–Senior executive with a telecom firm

“It’s not practical for us to give the additional documents. This has been deliberately drafted in a manner to make it difficult for us to collect the security deposit,” he said.

Who’s to blame?
Manoj Jain, Special Commissioner (Projects) at BBMP, said the documents, mentioned in the letter, are needed to confirm whether the road was restored to the original status by the OFC operator or it was done by the BBMP on its own funds. “If it is not done by the OFC company, the security deposit in such cases will be forfeited,” he said. He said the documents would help in better understanding the network of underground utilities.

Jain also asked why the OFC service providers were taking years to seek reimbursement of security deposit when they can do it immediately after restoring the dug up road.

Countering this, an OFC service provider said they do apply but the BBMP does not clear the files for years stating that it does not have funds. Bangalore Mirror

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