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Rules for telecom infrastructure in defence area eased out

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In order to enhance communication network quality and facilitate the launch of 5G, the defence ministry changed its 2018 regulation to permit the building of telecom equipment on defence grounds. According to reports, the revamped system will follow the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Row) Rules. The right to sanction the building of telecom infrastructure on defence land within a deadline would be granted to cantonment boards and station heads. On Wednesday, the Director General of Defence Estates and the three service chiefs were informed of the new regime. This new regime has taken into account concerns relating to national security.

According to the letter that was sent on Wednesday, all permits for the construction of shared communication towers and other telecom equipment in military stations or cantonments covered by the 2018 policy have been replaced. The Department of Telecom’s 2016 Indian Telegraph Row Rules, as updated from time to time, should henceforth be processed in compliance with any application received for the installation of telecom infrastructure on defence property, according to the mentioned details in the letter.

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The revamped system will follow the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Row) Rules.

The main objective to make this shift in the policy was to make sure that no one is deprived of the connectivity, services, and benefits of the network due to the restrictions in regard to the defence land, as per the statement of a government official. The new framework has streamlined the previous code, which was thought to be tedious, complex, and time-consuming.

Cantonment boards will request a prior NOC from the agency or agencies whose jurisdiction the defence land falls for places inside of cantonments, and due to security concerns, they will request a NOC from station headquarters for locations outside of cantonments. Time limits will be imposed on the NOC processing, which is not the case at the moment. The NOC-granting organisation must make a decision within 30 days; otherwise, the cantonment board will handle the application.

All such requests for the installation of telecom equipment by a service provider will be made available on an internet site that the DGDE will create, and if they are not handled within 60 days, they will automatically receive a considered sanction. However, the application will only be given a presumed sanction if it is posted on the Gati Shakti Sanchar portal and the DGDE/Army HQ is alerted if the cantonment board or station HQ fails to react to an application after 45 days.

 

The ministry is aiming to construct telecommunications infrastructure for the nationwide rollout of 5G, especially in rural areas.

Such modifications were made due to several inter-ministerial discussions that were held to establish a streamlined, predictable, and time-bound structure across ministries, departments, and states for handling RoW approvals that had caused delays in projects. The telecom department and several other related ministries, including the defence, road transportation, and railways, have been at odds over the costs associated with using land for the construction of telecommunications infrastructure for the nationwide rollout of 5G and the flagship Bharatnet project for rural tele-connectivity. By mid-2022, over 500 projects were delayed as a result of inter-ministerial differences. Most of the unfinished telecom and fibre-optic projects included military property in cantonments or border regions.

After determining that several projects, including the laying of utilities like electric cables, water pipelines, and telecom towers as well as road expansion, were stalled or delayed because of procedures, deadlines, and fees for RoW over another department’s or ministry’s land, Team Gati Shakti also took action. Even after the telecom department changed its RoW regulations to enable the implementation of 5G, the issue continued.

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