Solar-powered telecom towers put Maoist-hit areas under constant surveillance

Solar telecom towers will not only aid security forces but also boost eco-friendly development in the Red terror-infested areas


At present, installation of 1,315 solar powered mobile towers has been completed in the Maoist-affected areas. Photo: Mint
At present, installation of 1,315 solar powered mobile towers has been completed in the Maoist-affected areas. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Aiming to overcome the communication problem in Maoist-affected areas, the government is now installing solar-powered telecom towers in these regions, which will not only save fuel worth millions of rupees every year but also reduce carbon emissions.

According to official estimates, at present, around 100 districts across 10 states—Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh—are considered to be Maoist-infested areas. And the Naxalites often target school buildings, roads, railways, bridges, health infrastructure and communication facilities in these areas.

Lack of communication facilities not only affects the work of security forces, but also hampers the developmental work in these areas. In order to fix this problem, the Union home ministry had identified installation of 2,199 solar-powered telecom towers in areas affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected areas.

Such towers were chosen instead of traditional towers running on diesel to ensure uninterrupted communication facilities. At present, installation of 1,315 solar powered mobile towers has been completed.

“When we talk of integrated socio-economic development, it takes into account many areas that can benefit from faster access and enhanced productivities by using voice and data connectivity be it security, surveillance, connectivity and information access. In areas which are bereft of basic infrastructure, Wi-Fi connectivity underlines the solution to many. Today we are the proud custodian of world largest solar empanelled Wi-Fi telecom tower installation of around 1315 towers to provide connectivity in the LWE areas in order to integrate this region with urban India” said Sanjeev Kakkar, chief strategy officer of Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL), a telecom infrastructure firm.

Nearly Rs.850 crore has been spent in installation of 1,315 solar-powered telecom towers so far.

The Central government in 2012 had decided to make telecom sector green-friendly and reduce its carbon emissions. It is estimated that the telecom towers consume approximately two billion liters’ of diesel per year and emits five million tonnes of CO2 (carbon-di-oxide) emissions into the atmosphere. The government’s target is to reduce carbon emissions by 17% by 2018-19.

According to VNL’s estimates, every diesel run telecom tower consumes 240-480 litres of diesel every month and for a typical telecom tower infrastructure, the energy costs contribute to be almost 40-50% of the total operating costs of that site.

It is estimated that the telecom industry runs up an annual diesel bill of over Rs.10,000 crore, of which 70% is spent by the mobile tower companies.

The government is trying to address all these challenges with these solar-powered telecom towers.

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