No network: Telecom companies say topography hinders instaling towers in this Tiruchy Panchayat
Citing the village being nestled among hills, no mobile network operator has evinced interest to set up a signal tower in the locality till date, say residents.
TIRUCHY: Even as the country’s first-ever 5G spectrum auction extended into Thursday owing to the competition among telecom players, making a call from the mobile phone at the comfort of their homes remains a distant dream for the 3,000-odd residents of Kannuthu panchayat in the district.
Citing the village being nestled among hills, no mobile network operator has evinced interest to set up a signal tower in the locality till date, say residents. TNIE visited the village bordering Dindigul to catch a glimpse of the over decade-long fight the residents have put up with to have a mobile tower installed in the locality. Chinnamma P (56), an agriculture labourer in Kannuthu, mentions having to wake up around 6 am in order to cover four kilometres on foot to access a mobile network and upload photo proof for status of work taken up under MGNREGA.
We then return and head for work at 8 am. If we don’t upload photos by then, officials said they would not get saved in the servers to facilitate wage payment, she added. For a villager to connect a call on the mobile phone, the closest place the person would have to reach is Vaiampatti which is 4 km away. A panchayat middle schoolteacher who didn’t want to be named said,
“Every day during the second period, one of the teachers or the school help should head to the nearby panchayat to upload our attendance details. Much of our work is disturbed by this.” During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic teaching was almost impossible, the teacher added. Parameshwari (55), a resident of Kannuthu, said, “People from other villages don’t give their hand in marriage citing no availability of mobile network. Our village is called little Kodaikanal, as it is surrounded by hills.
We are proud of its natural beauty but the connectivity problem is disheartening.” Another resident, P Adaikkan (53), said, “Recently, we tried to call an ambulance for a pregnant woman. It took two hours to arrive. In the meantime the girl gave birth at home itself.” Pointing the issue to have been raised with the CM’s office and the collectorate, panchayat leader K Periyasamy said, “Private network operators said only if we pay up for 500 SIM connections in advance would they instal a network tower, but it was not a promise, just a part of negotiations.
Then we approached BSNL which said work will commence in a week but it’s been four months. Authorities cite the geography of the panchayat as reason for the delay. Our village looks for the day when everyone can use their mobile phones.” When contacted, Collector M Pradeep Kumar, after enquiries with BSNL officials, said the telecom provider would provide Kannuthu with WiFi connection within a week and added that a proposal for a network tower there has been forwarded to the firm's officials in Chennai.