Telecom network working at 85 percent capacity in Amphan-hit areas of West Bengal

Telecom service providers were able to restore connectivity to only 80-85 percent capacity level in areas of West Bengal hit by super cyclone Amphan due to erratic power supply, continued fibre cuts and obstruction by people protesting against disruption in electricity and water supply, industry body COAI said on Monday.

The Department of Telecom has asked the companies to bring the connectivity level to 95 percent by Monday evening.

“The overall telecom network has been restored to about 85 percent level. The main reasons are erratic power supply, fibre cuts and problems in reaching places because roads are blocked by fallen trees and also obstruction by agitated people,” COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews told PTI.

He said that people in some parts of Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal gheraoed telecom personnel who went to restore mobile towers.

“People have been agitating that they are not getting electricity. Hence, they block teams from restoration work. Fibre cuts have come down, but still going on,” Mathews said.

According to the Tower & Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), power supply situation in Kolkata has improved immensely, but it will take a while for electricity to get stable.

“Diesel generators, batteries and field rescue team are kept on readiness in case any situation arises. 90 percent of the connectivity of private players has been restored in most of the areas of West Bengal, and Kolkata, North and South Parganas still remains a challenge,” Taipa Director General T R Dua said.

The industry has also requested Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to help them in availability of diesel in some of the areas like North 24 and South 24 Parganas, East Midnapore and Howrah.

“The matter has been taken further by DoT for smooth operations,” Dua said.

According to industry sources, government run BSNL is working only at 60-65 percent capacity due to which overall connectivity is now between 80-85 percent, while 90 percent of capacity of private operators has been restored.

BSNL Chairman and Managing Director P K Purwar did not respond to queries in this regard.

Earlier in the day, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a tweet, said that he spoke to Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, BSNL CMD and Chief General Managers (CGMs) of West Bengal and Odisha.

“Asked them to expedite restoration of telephone lines. They are doing their best though there are issues of power supply & removal of uprooted trees. Told them to work with local authorities & get it expedited,” Prasad said.

Later in the evening, the telecom minister updated that the network of BSNL has been restored in Odisha on Monday.

“Chief General Manager (CGM) @BSNLCorporate  of #Odisha circle has informed me that restoration work of BSNL telecom network in the state has been completed now,” Prasad said.

Network of private operators was restored a day after cyclone Amphan hit Odisha coast, according to industry bodies.

—Outlook India

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