IN ADDITION to the government’s ambitious project to install 2,199 mobile towers in nine states affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), installation of 175 more towers have been sanctioned recently.
According to home ministry sources, of the 2,199 towers that were sanctioned earlier, 1,356 mobile towers have been set up by state-run BSNL. The maximum number have been installed in Jharkhand, with the primary focus on 35 districts in the country that are worst affected by LWE. While 16 of these districts are in Jharkhand, eight are in Chhattisgarh, six in Bihar, two in Odisha and one each in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The towers are powered by solar energy, and have been set up either inside police premises, camps set up by the police or paramilitary forces, or adjoining areas, due to the threat of being targeted by Maoists.
The project to install mobile towers to improve connectivity in Maoist-affected states was approved by the Cabinet at a cost of Rs 3,046 crore, three years ago. The states covered under the project include Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
Over 200 mobile towers have been brought down by Maoists in the past few years to disrupt the communication of security forces. Absence of proper connectivity in remote Maoist-affected areas has affected operations of security forces and delayed rescue efforts in the past.