The Union Cabinet of India gave clearance to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to roll out its mobile network in the Naxal-affected areas. Decks were cleared for mobile network to be set up by BSNL, which in turn will be financed by Universal Services Obligation (USO) fund.
Earlier, the Department of Telecom had sent out note for Cabinet’s consideration, which was confirmed by all the major central ministries such as Finance Ministry and Home Ministry.
The existing regulations demand that funding from USO can be done only via tendering process. The Department of Telecom, however wanted BSNL to have this project because of security issues in the Naxal-affected areas.
The project involves establishing telecom towers in 2199 locations which are spread across nine states. The overall cost of this project is 3000 crore Rupees.
Though all major ministries of the Union Government supported the project, but certain conditions were levied by some of the ministries. The Ministry of Finance suggested that the mechanism for monitoring the plans of BSNL should be set up by the Department of Telecom in order to make sure that the cost of the project does not exceed the amount which is already earmarked.
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs declared that apart from the Naxal-affected areas, BSNL should provide mobile network coverage in the tribal areas as well. The Ministry of Rural Development suggested similar plan for BSNL for mountainous regions.
The project is undertaken for improvement of communication services in these areas for the security agencies.