DoT flags 865 pending telcom tower proposals with Bihar govt
Bihar has the lowest tele-density of 55.81% nationally, as against the national tele-density of 84.43%.
The department of telecommunications (DoT) has flagged the inordinate delay in getting right of way (RoW) clearance for installation of 865 mobile communication towers in Bihar, which is hampering connectivity in many villages of the state that has the country’s lowest tele-density, officials said.
DoT’s director-general (DG) S K Jain had expressed serious concern about it during the review meeting of the digital infrastructure deployment on September 12 in New Delhi. This was followed by a letter on September 22 from Ram Raj Yadava, DoT’s director (rural), Bihar, to Arunish Chawla, state’s additional chief secretary with urban development and housing department (UD&HD), the state’s nodal authority, seeking his intervention to clear the pendency on a priority basis.
“We have written to the UD&HD, requesting it to expedite the RoW clearances,” said GC Rai, deputy director-general (DDG), DoT, Bihar.
As many as 837 of the total 865 requests for RoW clearance by telcos have been pending since 2021-22 at the level of block development officers (BDOs). Another 28 applications are pending at the level of urban local bodies (ULBs), said Rai.
Interestingly, of these, 593 applications, pending with 82 BDOs, are shown as “unprocessed” on the UD&HD online integrated portal for mobile tower and optical fibre application process and disposal system, also referred to as RoW portal of Bihar. Another 48 BDOs are sitting over 244 applications, which are shown as “in process” of approval for over the last one year. The portal to expedite such clearances was introduced in August 2022. The 865 applications pending are prior to the introduction of the online system.
Among the most laggard BDOs are those of Azamnagar in Katihar district, Barhara of Bhojpur, Adapur of East Champaran, Bhabhua of Kaimur, Harsiddhi of East Champaran, Jandaha in Vaishali, Bochaha in Muzaffarpur, Kudra in Kaimur, Simari Bakhtiyarpur in Saharsa, Banjara of East Champaran, Imamganj in Gaya, Bidupur in Vaishali, Sirdalla in Nawada, Chainpur in Kaimur, Chourahi in Begusarai, Alamnagar in Madhepura, Nardiganj in Nawada, Turkaulia in East Champaran and Harnaut in Nalanda district.
At least 10-25 applications are pending with each of these BDOs.
As many as 307 of Bihar’s 44,888 villages are still uncovered by 4G connectivity, of which 196 villages do not have any mobile connectivity, despite the Centre’s push to have 4G mobile connectivity in every village by December this year under the 4G saturation project.
“The BSNL has initiated work for installation of 89 new mobile towers in villages not having mobile connectivity in Bihar. Once completed, 138 of the 307 uncovered villages will get 4G connectivity. After our proposal, the Centre has now asked the BSNL to take up work in the remaining 169 villages as well,” said Rai.
However, pending RoW clearance is now pinching the telecom officials.
Installation of mobile towers need the state’s nod under the Bihar Communication Towers and Related Structures Rule, 2012, of the Bihar Municipal Act, 2007.
ACS Chawla did not respond to calls and messages.
Bihar has the lowest tele-density of 55.81% nationally, as against the national tele-density of 84.43% (source: TRAI). Over the years, the state has failed to stem the steady decline in tele-density, which has dropped by 4.3% in the last five years since June 2018.