Maoist-hit areas may get mobile towers

Maoist-hit areas may get mobile towers

The Telecom Commission in its next meeting on March 27 is likely to consider installation of mobile towers in Maoist-affected areas, full mobile number portability and a new penalty scheme for service providers.

Setting up mobile towers to improve communication in Maoist-hit areas would be the inter-ministerial panel’s top priority, considering the need for security forces to strengthen their operations against Left-wing extremists, sources said.

The Cabinet had approved the proposal at a cost of about Rs 3,046 crore in the nine states affected by Maoist violence – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.

The panel headed by Telecom Secretary M F Farooqui may also discuss full mobile number portability, which will allow users relocating to any part of the country to retain their original numbers. However, after the Defence Ministry raised security concerns, Jammu and Kashmir may be excluded from this facility.

The Telecom Commission is also expected to take up a revised penalty scheme, which would save operators from DoT fines of a maximum of Rs 50 crore for even minor violations. The proposal classifies penalties at various levels, starting with warnings that can lead to a penalty of Rs 1 lakh, minor violations with a Rs 1 crore penalty, moderate (Rs 5 crore), major (Rs 20 crore) and severe (Rs 50 crore).

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