NEW DELHI: In a bid to increase its reach in Maoist-hit regions, the Centre will install 4,072 mobile towers in 10 states.
“The additional towers will strengthen the telecom network resulting in increased mobile penetration in the Left Wing Extremism-affected and other areas facing security challenges,” a home ministry official said on Wednesday.
The decision, taken in a meeting of the Union Cabinet, approved a total investment of Rs 7,330 crore for setting up towers in 96 districts. Of the 4,072 towers, 1,054 will be installed in Jharkhand, 1,028 in Chhattisgarh, 483 in Odisha, 429 in Andhra Pradesh, 412 in Bihar, 207 in West Bengal, 179 in Uttar Pradesh, 136 in Maharashtra, 118 in Telangana and 26 in Madhya Pradesh.
This is the second phase of improving connectivity in Naxal-hit areas.
In the first phase, which was completed about two years ago, 2,329 mobile towers were installed at a cost of Rs 3,167 crore in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The operational expenses for running the towers will be part of the project cost.
These areas will now be able to get 4G services besides 2G services which were being offered in Left Wing Extremism-affected areas in the first phase.
The plan will be funded by the Universal Services Obligation Fund of the Department of Telecommunications. The fund is aimed at providing effective and powerful linkage to the hinterland, thereby mainstreaming the population of rural and remote parts of the country.
“This network will be used by security personnel deployed in LWE affected areas. Project will also provide mobile services to help residents in unconnected inhabited villages which will improve economic activities in the region,” said the government in a statement. Minister for electronics, IT, law and justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad said the move to improve connectivity in the region will have a social and strategic benefit.
Earlier, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba had said that 44 districts in the country were no longer under the influence of Maoists or have a negligible presence and most of the Left Wing Extremism was now confined only to 30 worst-hit districts.
He had said the geographical spread of the Left Wing Extremism violence has shrunk significantly in the last four years due to a multi-pronged strategy involving security and development-related measures.