Indian govt builds mobile towers in left-wing extremist blackspots
Summary: The government, via its state-owned telco BSNL and a massive investment fund, will build mobile towers in nine states affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) and without communications coverage.
The Indian government is building mobile towers in communication blackspots exposed to Left Wing Extremism (LWE), which have been without coverage.
Killi Kruparani, minister of state for communications and IT, said the state-owned telco BSNL has built mobile towers at 363 "affected" locations, according to statements filed Wednesday in India's house of representatives.
The construction is guided by a list of 2,199 areas across nine states, compiled by the Ministry of Home Affairs, where no wired or wireless telephone coverage exists and also populated by Indian LWE proponents--commonly referred to as Naxalites.
About half of these locations are in the eastern state of Jharkhand and its more central neighbour Chattisgarh--the latter boasts 351 BSNL mobile towers.
Kruparani also said that over the past five years the government has spent US$35.5 million (1.91 billion rupees) subsidizing the construction of 673 mobile towers in LWE affected districts.
Under the Shared Mobile Infrastructure Scheme (SMIS), backed by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), over 400 towers were constructed in Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.
Overall 7,353 towers have been built under the SMIS. Between 2012 and 2017, as part of the government's 12th five-year plan, the SMIS will financially support the distribution of mobile coverage to all disconnected villages, Kruparani said.