Millennium Post

16 of 37 States/UTs aligned with DoT's Right of Way rules

New Delhi: Only 16 out of the 37 states/Union Territories in India have aligned with the RoW (Right of Way) Rules, 2016, issued by the Department of Telecom, even after four years, which is jeopardising the rolling out of telecom infrastructure including the towers, laying fibre cable in those states which ultimately affects the call quality, increases network congestion and call drops.

Out of the 37 States/UTs, only 16 states have broadly aligned their policy with RoW Rules 2016 and the other remaining states still need to align their policy with Row Rules 2016, industry body Taipa (Towers and Infrastructure Providers Association) has rued.

"A robust telecom infrastructure will play a key role in seamless connectivity, which is the essence of true "Digitization". India still needs more than 1,00,000 towers to provide quality services and cater an active subscriber base of more than a billion consumers," Taipa said.

The RoW rules, notified way back in November 2016, provide for a framework to give approvals for setting up of telecom towers and laying of fibre cables and settle disputes in a time-bound manner, as well as improve coordination between companies and the State government authorities and local bodies.

It also prescribes for setting up a web-based online portal for a single window clearance mechanism to ensure timebound approvals.

Making a special mention of the Karnataka government for not aligning with the RoW rules, Taipa said the state is not adopting RoW Rules 2016 issued by the DoT.

"On the contrary, the Urban Development Department (UDD) in Karnataka, which seems to be responsible for framing the policy for installation of telecom infrastructure in the State has come out with a Policy in May 2019 which is completely misaligned with the Indian Telegraph RoW Rules 2016 of the Government of India. Not only this, the policy as issued by the State government has gone even beyond and prescribed many restrictions for placement of telecom infrastructure and the fee that is required to be paid to the State government for permission is prescribed at Rs 1 lakh which is up to 10 times higher than that prescribed by the Central Government.

Further, the provisions regarding single window clearance and standardization of RoW rules November 2016, is missing in the policy," Taipa pointed.

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