Mounting pressure on the Congress government in Punjab, Reliance Jio and ASSOCHAM separately wrote to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh Wednesday with the telecom giant seeking his intervention for action against those responsible for the incidents of “sabotage and vandalism” of its mobile towers and the industry body saying these could dent the image of the state.
The letters come two days after Amarinder directed the police to take strict action against those indulging in vandalism.
In the letter to CM, Tajinder Pal Singh Walia, State Head – Reliance Jio Infocomm, Punjab Circle, flagged the acts of “sabotage” and “vandalism” at its network sites “by unknown persons in the disguise of ongoing farmers agitation”.
“We humbly request for your kind intervention by a direction from your good office to the district administration to take action against the miscreants who caused this damage, and prevention of any further damage as apart from losses to the infrastructure, people of Punjab are suffering because their life is getting impacted severely in carrying out their day to day activity, education, business, study etc,” letter dated December 27 read.
The letter comes at a time when the farmers protesting against three new farm laws have been vandalising telecom towers in Punjab under the belief that they are owned by Mukesh Ambani whom they consider along with tycoon Gautam Adani as major beneficiaries of the new laws.
However, the ownership of the 9,000 towers in Punjab, and elsewhere in the country, lies with Canadian firm Brookfield, with Jio having a long term anchor-tenant relationship. Earlier this year, a Brookfield-led team completed a Rs 25,000-crore deal to buy out Reliance Jio’s tower arm.
ASSOCHAM too has written to the CM saying, “Such incidents not only result in a huge national loss but also severely dent the image of a progressive state. A prolonged and continuation of the agitation, especially with incidents of damage to the industrial and other infrastructure, would turn investors away from the state of Punjab”.
ASSOCHAM, through the letter by its president Vineet Agarwal, urged the state to step up the efforts to ensure that such incidents do not take place.
Since June, there have been widespread protests by farmers within Punjab, that have spilled over to Haryana and the National Capital Region. “The blockade of important highways connecting J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and the NCR has been resulting in a daily loss of Rs 3,000-3,500 crore, as per our earlier estimates. It has been over a month that these highways are blocked with the result that the losses to the economic activities are mounting while the image of the state, as an investment destination, is taking a dent,” the letter read.