BSNL, USOF to sign pact for towers in naxal areas by month-end
Aug 26 2013 , New Delhi
"We will try to sign the MoU (with BSNL) by the end of this month," USOF Administrator N Ravi Shankar told PTI.
The USOF was created under the National Telecom Policy, 1999, for providing access of telecom services to people in rural areas at affordable prices.
BSNL has already floated a notice inviting tender for setting up 1,315 sites of 2G GSM network in left-wing extremist areas of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal for five years, which is extendable by two years.
The Cabinet in June had cleared the three-year old proposal to set up mobile towers at a cost of around Rs 3,046 crore in nine states, in the wake of a naxal attack that led to killing of 27 people, including senior Congress leaders, in Chattisgarh in May this year.
BSNL was mandated to set up the towers, the cost of which would be borne by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), which is administered by the DoT.
There were, however, some differences over costs between BSNL and USOF. However, Shankar said all the issues will be sorted out and BSNL's concerns will be examined by the DoT.
"DoT will look into the financial aspect of the matter," he said.
BSNL Chairman and Managing Director R K Upadhyay also said that the project is on track and the company has already floated the tender on August 14.
Asked whether the tender calls to set up towers in four states while the Cabinet had cleared setting up mobile sites in nine states, Upadhyay said the company has already established towers in some naxal affected states, which just need to be maintained.
The towers, which have been a long-pending demand of the Home Ministry, will strengthen the telecom network resulting in increased penetration in LWE affected areas and other areas facing security challenges.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had asked the Department of Telecommunications to get the project completed by BSNL in a year and said that in the first phase towers should be installed in proximity with security force establishments.