Project to improve mobile network in north-eastern States hangs fire

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Modi may take up issue today

With the ₹2,500-crore project to improve mobile connectivity in the north-eastern States still hanging fire, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to take up issues and concerns on the same at a meeting here on Wednesday.

The project, if not started at the earliest, may become a hurdle to the Prime Minister’s ‘Digital India’ programme, which is crucial for connecting villages across India. The project was approved by the Cabinet in 2014.

There are more than 4,000 villages, which are not yet connected through broadband due to a blame game between some telecom equipment companies in laying cables and erecting towers in the north-eastern States.

Questions were also raised in Parliament about the project not taking off.

Blame game

According to various sources in the industry, the blame game between the companies is affecting the entire project and the government is looking at either cancelling the project or starting it with qualified companies.

“Any project, even after getting the bid, takes six-seven months to lay out the connectivity and around one year to give the services to the people. Since, this project has still not taken off, it has raised concern,” said an industry veteran.

Five companies had participated in the bidding, including Himachal Futuristic Communications (HFCL), Toshniwal Enterprises Controls, State-owned ITI, Vihaan Network (VNL) and Fibcom.

HFCL and VNL had cleared the technical bid round, but opening of the financial bids is yet to happen. “The entire tender should have been finalised in November last year and work should have started by now,” said Ninong Ering, Member of Parliament.

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Published on April 11, 2017
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