Over 1,800 mobile towers to come up in Naxal areas of Maharashtra
The Centre has asked the state government to immediately set up mobile towers in Naxal areas. A joint directive from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Information Technology has asked the state to identify land and locations where 1,836 Base Transmission Towers (BTT) could be set up in the areas affected by Left-wing Extremism.
The State will have to secure the mobile towers by locating them in police stations. File pic
A large number of these towers will come up in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and parts of the Andhra Pradesh-Maharashtra border. The Union Cabinet had okayed the plan in August to install mobile towers in red areas and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has since been asked to roll out the entire project in 12 months time.
Citing security threats to towers, the union government has given clear directives to Maharashtra to identify the new locations either within the premise of a police station or land belonging to security agencies. ‘The work has already started in many places in other states. These towers will be most useful for the government machinery when not targeted by the left extremists.
I request your immediate intervention in ensuring that in your state these locations are in secured places, preferably inside police stations,’ wrote Rakesh Garg, secretary, Union Ministry for Communication and Information Technology, in his letter to the chief secretary of state government.
The Union Cabinet’s proposal cleared in August was to install 1,836 BTT at a cost of Rs 3,216 crore. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been backing the project since 2010 on the grounds that lack of connectivity has made it impossible for security forces to operate in the red region, and even resulted in loss of lives on several occasions when timely help could not be reached under critical situations.
The government’s original idea is to set up over 2,100 towers in nine states affected by Naxal problems.