To avoid frequent damage to optical fibre cables during construction and widening of roads, Telecom Department has proposed that a utility conduit or duct be made part of the road and national highways design.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has put forth this proposal to states, the Ministry of Rural Development, as well as the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Telecom Secretary JS Deepak said.
"We have proposed having a conduit for utilities including optical fibre cable as part of the road design, be it national highways, state highways or Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana rural roads...This duct can be an assigned space below the footpath, along the roadside wherein all the utilities can flow. We are trying to converge and get this done," Deepak said.
He said the idea was to get a conduit as part of the road design itself so that cables which are laid do not get cut repeatedly when roads are widened.
"It is a duct which will be laid and you can put utilities like optical fibre cable, into it. It is not being done right now. If optical fibre has to be put, one can put the fibre, or if gas or water line has to be put, that can be put separately," he said.
Deepak conceded that such a design would lead to cost escalations but pointed out that the same could be recovered in form of rentals.
"The telecom operator can rent the space. They pay a rental to the road agency and put the fibre. It is a cost issue...the cost will go up, but that they can recover in form of rentals," he said.
He said the department has initiated talks with states, Ministry of Rural Development, and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to pitch the concept of having a duct for various utilities, including optical fibre cable. The talks are at an advanced stage, he pointed out.
“We have requested the Rural Development Department to make it a part of the design of rural roads...the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana roads...We have requested the States through video conferencing, to make it a part of State road plans. We have also written to Chief Secretaries and we have requested Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to make it a part of the national highways design,” he said.