Report by Badal Tah, Rayagada : In reply to Starred Question on 20th November 2020 on Mobile Services in Rural and Scheduled Areas Minister of Communications mentioned that under LWE(Left Wing Extremism) Phase – II project 2217 mobile towers had been approved for mobile connectivity covering various states including Odisha. Unfortunately, not a single tower came up in Koraput constituency consisting of Rayagada and Koraput districts (Aspirational) in the last 2 years by BSNL. Mobile connectivity is still not available in most of the areas in these two districts and is creating lot of problems be it addressing health emergencies, implementation of state and government schemes, connecting people to mainstream, law and order situation etc. While we talk about Digital India, we should consider right to connectivity a fundamental right, Saptagiri Ulaka, MP, Koraput Constituency said.
He requested the Ministry of Communications to have a comprehensive Telecom Development plan for mobile connectivity in Rayagada and Koraput districts one of the most backward districts with lowest tele-density and direct BSNL to set up mobile towers in the above GPs at the earliest. Also urged the ministry to ensure that BSNL provides 4G connectivity in these areas. During August this year Saptagiri in a press meet at Rayagada PWD bungalow said that he would raise this issue again in parliament.
51 GPs in Koraput District have no network coverage namely 4 in Bandhugaon Block, 4 in Narayanpatna,3in Laxmipur, 4 in Dasmantpur, 2 in Koraput, 4 in Pottangi, 7 in Nandapur, 3 in Semiliguda, 6 in Lamtaput , 4 in Baipariguda ,1 in Kundura, 4 each in Jeypore & Borigumma & 1 in Kotpad.
Similarly 69 GPs in Rayagada District have no network coverage such as 6 in Kolnara, 8 in Rayagada, 4 in Chandrapur, 2 in Muniguda, 6 in Kalyansinghpur, 9 in Bissamcuttack, 10 in Gunupur, 15 in Kashipur, 2 in Ramnaguda, 4 in Gudari & 3 in Padmapur.
“Interestingly enough 8 GPs from Rayagada block including Halua do not have mobile connectivity. Villages of this GP are adjacent to the city & hardly a km away from Rayagada town limit. Still then the VSNL connectivity is hardly functional. VSNL needs to look into this aberration”, said Sri Kanta Rao Bidika, a village leader of Barijhola, a prominent village under Halua GP. Kashipur, Gunupur and Bissam Cuttack blocks have highest numbers of GPs having no mobile connectivity though three MLAs namely Sri Jagannath Saraka, Sri Raghunath Gomango & Sri Makaranda Muduli belong & represent from these blocks. They have hardly taken up these vital issues. As during this Corona time, people of these areas including school students depended on digital mode of information and education, they had to face immense difficulties. There are incidents like students migrated to outer states to earn and buy android cell phones and got killed. A student climbed the hill to get network connectivity, slipped and succumbed to injuries.
“Thanks to the present Minister of Communications and Railways Sri Aswini Baishnaw, who recently visited these two districts and ppraised the situation of telephone network and assured the public to work on the deficit. He kept his commitment made during his visit. We are confident that more such initiatives will be taken up in this region”, said Sri Shyam Das, Youth President, BJP, Rayagada.
“Our fight for mobile connectivity in Rayagada and Koraput districts is finally yielding results. In over 7000 villages of 44 aspirational dists across 5 states including Odisha, mobile towers with 4G connectivity will be provided worth Rs.6466 crores as announced by Government of India. This is a huge victory for all of us – if you have will you will get results”, said Saptagiri Ulaka, MP, Koraput. The process needs to go beyond allocation of finance. The implementation has to accelerated within a time frame in true spirit, said Ulaka.