Palike has a gadget, but no gadgeteer

Palike has a gadget, but no gadgeteer

Lack of expertise stalls drive against OFCs

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike is faced with an intriguing problem when it comes to the drive against illegally laid optical fibre cables (OFCs).

Finding an expert to operate Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) in the IT city has become a herculean challenge for the civic body.

The Palike claims that telecom firms have laid at least 25,000 km-long OFCs while the latter in their affidavits asserted to have drawn cables only for a length of 4,500 km. Even as the BBMP was about to launch a crackdown, the firms went to the High Court. The Court ruled in favour of the Palike and allowed it to disconnect the illegally laid cables.

There arose the question of ascertaining the actual length of cables drawn. New Life Karnataka, a non-governmental organisation, rented out OTDR to the BBMP. The instrument can measure the length of cables in no time.

The device, however, seems to be of no use for the Palike in the absence of an expert to operate it. “We have not been able to utilise the OTDR since we do not have a connector. More so, we do not have an expert to use it,” said a senior officer in the BBMP.

The result - the drive against illegally laid OFCs has come to a grinding halt for the last one-and-a-half-month. Only 150 kms of illegally laid OFC has been cut till now. The Palike has now decided to approach Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to operate the instrument.

The illegally laid OFCs have burnt a hole in the Palike’s pocket. The telecom companies not only damaged roads and underground drains for laying cables, but also hid information on the total length of the cable drawn, thus causing huge revenue loss to the cash-starved civic body.

The issue came to light last year when the Home Minister R Ashoka and the Deputy Mayor S Harish stated in a press conference that the telecom firms deceived Palike by laying at least 25,000 km-long OFCs illegally. It was earlier told that two OTDR machines have been imported from Singapore with each one costing about Rs six lakh. But now the Palike refutes that it had ever bought the OTDR machine, instead it was hired.

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