Ban or no ban, telecom firms must restore dug-up roads

Ban or no ban, telecom firms must restore dug-up roads

The ban on OFC installation was revoked during a meeting after residents complained about widespread internet outage in the city.

Soon after banning the installation of Optic Fibre Cables (OFC) by telecom providers, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has lifted the ban. This followed a meeting conducted on Tuesday after residents complained about widespread internet outage in the city.

But even as the ban is lifted, people are concerned about the safety of their roads as telecom, cable network providers and contractors who work for these providers dig up roads. They often fail to cover the trenches and repair the roads, turning a blind eye to safety concerns.

READ: Burial woes for OFC cables

“Even if the ban is lifted, telecom service providers must act responsibly. Digging up roads for their convenience and not re-laying them is not justifiable. They must stick to the new regulations set by BBMP and must finish the work quickly without distressing people,” says Srirag Alekkaran, a civil engineer concerned about public safety.

A time limit must be set, he suggests. “Prolonging the deadline must invite a penalty. In case of further digging for laying OFCs, they must use warning boards and reflectors in order to avoid accidents.”

Alekkaran feels digging up roads in front of schools or colleges must be avoided, or work must be done quickly without causing inconvenience to the public. “They must show equal enthusiasm and involvement in covering up the mess they made as much as they showed when they caused it,” he adds.

Cable operators and telecom providers are the ones who are happy about the removal of the ban. The ban had limited these service providers from laying underground OFCs, an effective method.

“If the cables are overhead, then trees must be shredded. Bescom officials may also cut these cables. If they are underground, this will not happen. As a cable operator, it is the most favoured method to me, but it will cause inconvenience to the public,” says Dilip Kumar, a cable operator who owns the Divya Cable Network.

“There will be roads dug up everywhere and all tarred roads will be shovelled up again in the process. It is a huge disruption for the public, but it works well for operators like me,” he says.

However, there are also problems. “Since the cables are laid in the middle of the road, underground, if any problem arises with the cables, the road will have to be dug up again.”

But in local areas with high density, underground cables are not advisable. Mostly overhead cables are preferred here, while cables from the main head office are laid underground, says Kumar.

Residents and employees of various companies who use internet facilities on a daily basis were concerned by the disruption in internet facilities after the BBMP ban. But once the ban was lifted, their immediate concerns were about road maintenance.

“Though providing internet facilities is important, it creates hassles for commuters. Roads are dug up multiple times for providing different facilities and are not scientifically patched up in time. As a result, traffic jams and accidents are a common sight on city roads,” notes Ashish Gowra, an R&D engineer with a private firm.

Gowra says BBMP should ensure that the work is completed in time. They should also try to minimise the inconveniences caused to commuters.

“Since the services offered by these providers are equally important, BBMP should ensure efficient scrutiny before approving their requests to dig up roads. They must also ensure that the patching up of road is done effectively,” says Akhilesh, a site manager at a tech firm.

Lifting the ban has certainly helped the telecom providers in the city, but citizens want them to follow the BBMP regulations strictly to avoid any kind of discomfort to the public. Dug up roads have to be restored to their original state within the given deadline.

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