NEW DELHI, July 14 � Seamless 3G coverage on the National Highways all over the North East is likely to become a reality soon, with the Centre clearing a comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the North Eastern region at an estimated cost of over Rs 5,000 crore.
Disclosing this in the Lok Sabha, Union Minister for Telecom Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Telecom Commission has in its meeting on June 13 sanctioned a comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the NER at an estimated cost of Rs 5336.18 crore, according to the recommendations of TRAI.
The main thrust areas identified for improvement and augmentation of telecom services in the region include 3G mobile coverage to all identified uncovered villages, seamless 3G coverage along the National Highways and ensuing reliability of and redundancy in the transmission network at State capitals and district headquarters, the Minister.
Ravi Shankar Prasad further added that uncovered villages without mobile connectivity in the country will be covered in a phased manner with villages in hilly States other than those in the NER proposed to be taken up in the first phase with funding support from Universal Obligation Fund.
In reply to a question, Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Government of India has taken this decision to be formalised in the Cabinet. The Telecom Commission has already approved it. Installation of towers does not require much of the land, even if it is a Sixth Schedule area, he said
�I understand the limitations on that acquisition, but I will instruct the officials to have engagements with the Gram Panchayats, local Mukhiyas and the Sarpanchs to ensure that if land is acquired it will be to the benefit of the people concerned. That is how we would like to work it out. It will not be a difficulty at all,� he said.
The Minister was replying to a question by Sushmita Dev, who referring to the announcement by Telecommunication that 8000 towers would be installed at a cost of Rs.5000 crores in the North Eastern States, wondered how much land is required for this and how it plans to acquire the land in the Sixth Schedule areas.