Cabinet approves mobile towers in nine Maoist-hit states

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) For effective governance and providing affordable access to communication, the union cabinet Tuesday decided to install mobile towers in nine Maoist-hit states, including Chattisgarh where the rebels killed 28 people May 25.

The approval to the project was given by the union cabinet in a meeting held here.

Mobile towers would be installed at 2,199 locations in nine states - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal - which are affected by left wing extremism identified by the home ministry.

"The project would be executed by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). The BSNL has already installed towers at 363 locations. Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) would fund the CAPEX and OPEX net of revenue for five years. Maximum outgo from the USO Fund is estimated to be Rs.3,046.12 crore," Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

Installation and roll out in these areas is targeted to be completed in 12 months after amendment in the Indian Telegraph Rules and signing of agreement with BSNL which will take about three months.

The strengthened telecom network will result in increase in penetration of mobile connectivity in the country, especially LWE affected areas and other areas facing security challenges, resulting in affordable and equitable access of communication, information and governance to people.

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