The Uttarakhand cabinet on Friday approved an amendment in the states’ information technology (IT) policy to provide incentives of up to Rs 40 lakh to facilitate private telecom companies to install towers in ‘dark villages’ where telecommunication facilities are unavailable at present.
‘Dark villages’ are rural habitations where no telecom service provider (TSP) or internet service provider (ISP) is available. The decision by the state cabinet is significant from a strategic point of view as generally such villages in Uttarakhand are located along the international borders with China and Nepal.
According to government sources, there are 438 ‘dark villages’ in the state at present. Telecom companies hesitate in installing towers in such areas because they do not find it financially viable, they said.
“If any service provider will submit a proposal to install telecom services in such villages, an incentive of 30 per cent of the project cost or Rs 40 lakh, whichever is lower, will be provided by the government to the company,” said an official.
The cabinet proposal says the decision will attract investment in the state in the information and communication technology and electronics sectors.
The state cabinet also approved a proposal for the expansion of a helipad at the Kedarnath shrine in Rudraprayag district to make it suitable for the landing of IAF’s Chinook helicopters.
A Chinook requires a helipad with an area of more than 5,000 square metres. Kedarnath at present has one MI-26 helipad with an area of 2,000 square metres and another VIP helipad with an area of 2,400 square meters.
Sources said the Chinook helicopters will be used to transport to Kedarnath newly-procured heavy machineries which are required for rebuilding works after the 2013 floods. The target is to complete the expansion of helipad by October so that maximum development works can be completed before the onset of snow. However, a senior government functionary said the helipad’s expansion is important from a “strategic point of view” as it will facilitate the landing of advanced IAF helicopters as well as transportation.
The cabinet also approved a proposal to launch the Tourists Incentive Coupon (TIC) scheme to revive the tourism industry that suffered a setback during the lockdown. Under this scheme, tourists will be provided concessions of up to Rs 1,000 in their accommodation bills in hotels and home stays. Incentive coupons will be provided on e-bookings only.