MALKANGIRI: Absence of mobile connectivity in Maoist bastions of the district has hindered intelligence sharing to counter the Red menace.
A mobile phone network, which is necessary to gather information about extremists as well as keep a track on their movement, is yet to be installed in far-flung areas of Chitrakonda, Motu, Podia, MV-72 and other interior pockets. So far, there are only 30 towers across the district, leaving the interior pockets uncovered.
Other areas such as Motu, Mathili, Kalimela, Podia, MV-79, Kudmulgumma, Khairput and cut-off region of Chitrakonda reservoir too have no mobile phone network. Lack of telecom infrastructure compromises with the security of para-military forces engaged in combing operation in Maoist areas.
With the district sharing its borders with Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh and Maoists active in both the States, sharing of information on Maoist activity with police and paramilitary forces of the neighbouring States becomes a major challenge, sources in the police department revealed.
Koraput-based BSNL Deputy General Manager Laxman Meher said plans are afoot to set up 17 more towers in sensitive areas. Admitting delay in the process, Meher said a maximum of six towers can be erected in these places in next six months and the rest can be set up in the next one year.
Meanwhile, the BSNL tower in cut-off area at Janbai, where Gurupriya bridge construction is on, caters to the need of only 15 subscribers. But there is no mobile connectivity on the other side of Chitrakonda reservoir, making it difficult for the Border Security Forces deployed there to communicate about their status to their counterparts elsewhere.
Even interventions by the then Additional Chief Secretary U N Behera and other top officials of the State Government during their visits to the bridge site at Janbai for providing better mobile connectivity in the area have failed. Malkangiri is not an isolated case. Rayagada district too faces a similar situation.
Though the Left Wing Extremists are active in Kalyansingpur, Muniguda, Bissamcuttack, Kashipur and Rayagada blocks of the district, only 59 BSNL mobile towers provide service to about half of 10 lakh population. Besides, no mobile service is available in remote pockets where the rebels are active.