CHENNAI: Telecom giant Reliance Jio has filed an application with Union Ministry of Environment and Forests seeking wildlife clearance for laying optical fibre cable inside Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. As part of its proposal to implement 4G telecom project, Jio is planning to lay underground cables from Theppakkadu to Moyar via Masinagudi in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.
The application was filed on April 30 and is currently under consideration with the ministry. The Nilgiris District Collector has already certified in favour of the project saying no alternative non-forest land, suitable for the project, was available in the desired Theppakkadu-Masinagudi-Moyar road section for the entire 16-km border near Tamil Nadu and Karnataka States.
TT Balsamy, State Coordinate Officer, Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, claimed in the application that no tree would be cut, but in the list of undertakings attached with the application, which were reviewed by Express, Jio said it would bear the cost of felling of trees and transportation cost of trees to be removed, if any available in the alignment path, for the proposed diversion of forest land as fixed by forest department.
In the justification note, Balsamy said: "The cable shall be laid on 0.30 metres width of surface land and up to 1-2 metres depth and nearer to the extreme road boundary where alignment of trench will be done in such a way that, no trees will be required to cut."
Though laying of telephone lines or optical fiber cables is a permitted activity, felling of trees is strictly prohibited by virtue of a Supreme Court judgement. Jio, in a statement, said the company had not violated the provision of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.