Nation Current Affairs 11 Aug 2016 Kerala government to ...

Kerala government to cut cable cord with Reliance Jio and Idea Cellular groups

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Aug 11, 2016, 1:59 am IST
Updated Aug 11, 2016, 7:27 am IST
Optical cable laying monopoly over: G. Sudhakaran.
Public Works Development Minister G. Sudhakaran
 Public Works Development Minister G. Sudhakaran

Thiruvananthapuram: Public Works Development Minister G. Sudhakaran has decided to end the monopoly enjoyed by Reliance Jio Infocomm and Idea Cellular groups to lay fibre optical cables across the state. Mr Sudhakaran told reporters here on Wednesday that a former chief secretary, who was acting as the ‘agent’ of RJI,  had requested him to extend the contract issued by Mr P. H. Kurian, former IT secretary, during the UDF government's tenure.

Mr Sudhakaran had called the press meet to announce that an estimate of Rs 3,585 crore had been prepared for the repair and maintenance  of PWD roads. He said that hereafter telecom companies would have to  convince the government about the reason for the digging up of the PWD roads wrecking the infrastructure.

 

“A former chief secretary came to me and sought  extension to the companies to lay fibre optical cables. Later, another retired additional secretary,  the agent of Idea Cellular,  sought my permission to lay cable on 7500-km roads in Kerala. I rejected his proposal right away,”  he said.

Top department sources told DC that Mr. Kurian had not taken the concurrence of the then PWD secretary before issuing the order. A sum of Rs 75, 000 was levied from RJI as fibre optical installation fee and half of it went to the IT department and the remaining to the chief minister’s relief fund. The official lamented that when PWD roads were dug up across the state, it received no money while infrastructure was wrecked.

 

“The PWD minister had  given a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan a week ago requesting that the monopoly of these telecom giants be ended. We are expecting a positive response from the CM,”  said a top ministry official.

However, Mr Kurian told DC that he had issued a general order for every telecom company that had sought permission to lay fibre optical cables in the state.  Several states had granted them permission to lay cables and some like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal had slapped installation fees on them.

 

“There is no such monopoly as claimed by the PWD minister. It was an order by the government of India that the state government should offer all help to the telecom companies to attain high speed internet connectivity. Accordingly, I issued a general order stating that RJI should be granted permission to lay cables in more than 3000 km across the state,”  said Mr Kurian.

 A top Reliance official maintained that the PWD minister had given new sanction for the  RJI to lay more cables and that the project was currently under implementation. Other telecom companies like Airtel, Vodafone and L & T were also awaiting sanction from the LDF government.

 

“I doubt whether the LDF government would have the audacity to say ‘No’ to L&T. It is the joint policy of the central and state government to bring high speed broadband in the country. I am curious to know whether the LDF government is against broadband and fast internet intelligence,”  he said.

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