Thursday, July 30, 2009

Naxal attacks may disrupt mobile expansion

Hrusikesh Mohanty / Kolkata/ Berhampur July 30, 2009, 0:19 IST

With the Maoists training their guns on the telecom towers in the Naxal hit districts of south Orissa like Koraput, Malkanagiri, Rayagada and Nabarangapur, the plans of cellular operators to expand their network in these areas may go haywire.

The Maoists have already blown up as many as 16 telecom towers in different places of these districts, thereby disrupting the mobile telephone services.

The red rebels blew up the telecom tower of Reliance Communications at Padmaja and that of Airtel at Tandapali on the eve of the Martyrs’ week beginning on Tuesday. Both these towers were located at isolated places in Malkanagiri district.

The Maoists who were targeting the telecom towers felt that mobile connectivity was not an indication of development of a region.

These attacks on the telecom towers have dissuaded the cellular operators from expanding their mobile services in the four remote districts.

While one private mobile operator has put on hold its expansion plan, other cellular operators wanted to install their towers only in the vicinity of the police stations.

Even state owned telecom major, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which has incurred a loss of Rs 3 crore due to damage of its three telecom towers, was reluctant to put up new towers in the Naxal infested districts.

“We have already lost Rs 3 crore due to damage of our three telecom towers and cannot afford to lose further by installing new towers in the Maoist infested regions of the state”, said a BSNL official on the condition of anonymity.

BSNL intended to install 14 telecom towers this year in these four Naxal hit districts. Almost all the cellular operators having a presence in Orissa planned to install additional telecom towers and expand their mobile services in these four districts of south Orissa.

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