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Cheaper connectivity solution for Northeast: Nagaland official

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New Delhi: To improve internet connectivity in the northeastern states of India, the Modi government is set to spend Rs 7,000 crore (nearly $1 billion) on laying a fibre optic network. Though, a solution has been devised by a senior government official from Nagaland that may not only cut costs by 75 percent but will also be more effective.

The official, K D Vizo, Nagaland’s commissioner and IT secretary, suggested an alternative technology – a High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) – that can be operated from an unmanned airship or a balloon. This alternative comes at an estimated cost of Rs 1,750 crore, about 25 percent of the Rs 7,000 crore budget earmarked for the northeast out of the Rs 72,778 crore project under the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN).

NOFN has the ambitious objective of providing 2,00,000 gram panchayats with internet connectivity. The project is intended to enable the government to provide e-services and e-applications nationally. A special purpose vehicle – Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) – has been created as a public sector undertaking (PSU) under the Companies Act for executing the project.

“Underground optical fibre, laid in the hilly terrain of the northeastern states, with time has become defunct following landslides and soil erosion, a common phenomenon in the area because of the loose mountainous soil,” Vizo told IANS.

Vizo was recently in Delhi to participate as a resource person in a conclave themed “Connectivity Challenges in the Northeast – Way Forward’. He emphasised that the region has already missed the first industrial revolution, but should not miss the second one, which is all about IT.

The northeastern region is entitled to a 90:10 share under the NOFN project, which is being funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

“The operating altitude of this system is normal between 17 km and 22 km from the ground because in most regions of the world this represents a layer of relatively mild wind and less turbulence. It can function as an unmanned airship or balloon and it requires only electrical power to keep it and its payload functional,” Vizo explained.

Since HAPS operates at much lower altitudes than satellites, it is possible to cover a small region like the northeastern part of India much more effectively than with a satellite. Lower altitude also means much lower link budget (hence lower power consumption) and smaller round trip delays compared to satellites, he added.

“It is a common phenomenon to see underground optical fibre hanging on trees along national and state highways in the region. In such a situation only a mixture of wireless, satellite and OFC Network can be effective,” Vizo said.

Explaining the advantages of HAPS, Vizo said: “Unlike a satellite, which once launched, does not allow for full maintenance, in the case of HAPS, it can undergo full maintenance. The cost of HAPS is only about a fourth of a normal geosynchronous Equatorial orbit (GEO) satellite.”

Vizo also urged the government to earmark a small budget under the USOF for installing of at least two such systems to cover the northeastern region with wireless broadband.

“If the northeast is to be developed in terms of IT, then the greater focus should be on wireless and satellite technologies as these can be installed faster and are more suitable for the difficult terrain in the region,” Vizo said.(IANS) (image: bandwidthplace.com)

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Food Processing Industry has Immense Potential in Northeastern States

PMKSY is a comprehensive package which will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management

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Food, Industry, Northeastern States
Speaking at the inaugural function of a workshop on Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (PMKSY) here, he announced that his Ministry is planning to establish a Food Technology Institute in Assam and that his ministry will leave no stone unturned to make it a game-changer. Pixabay

Food processing is an industry that has immense potential in the northeastern states but has not been explored to its optimum yet, said Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Rameswar Teli, on Tuesday.

“The northeast region, with its vast resources and bio-diversity, produces ample exotic fruits and vegetables which can be made economically viable through the food processing industry,” Teli said.

Speaking at the inaugural function of a workshop on Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (PMKSY) here, he announced that his Ministry is planning to establish a Food Technology Institute in Assam and that his ministry will leave no stone unturned to make it a game-changer in the region.

PMKSY is a comprehensive package which will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farms to retail outlets, Teli said.

Food, Industry, Northeastern States
Food processing is an industry that has immense potential in the northeastern states but has not been explored to its optimum yet, said Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Rameswar Teli, on Tuesday. Pixabay

Citing the rich potential of Arunachal Pradesh in this sector, he called for creation of a food processing department to exclusively deal with the subject.

The Union Minister also urged the state government to fast-track the establishment of a Mega Food Park which has already been approved by the Ministry.

“Of the Rs 140 crore for northeast, we still have Rs 110 crore unspent. Therefore, states of the region need to accelerate development of Mega Food Parks and Mini Food Parks as envisaged and proposed.”

Teli urged entrepreneurs and farmers present at the event to take full advantage of the workshop and equip themselves with prospects and benefits under the PMKSY.

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Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu said that all decks have been cleared for the establishment of the Mega Food Park near the state capital and the state government will provide all basic facilities.

Underscoring the state’s potential in agri-horti produce like kiwi, orange, apple, pineapple, banana, tea, he said if food processing is taken up extensively, it could change the economy of the farming community.

“Nature has given us so much, we can easily become the richest and happiest state in the country. But lack of market knowledge is one big hindrance in the take off of the farming sector and there is need for enhancing farmers’ knowledge on latest market trends and demands,” the Chief Minister added.

Khandu said the state government has already prepared a roadmap to boost the agri-horti sector based on which schemes are being formulated and launched phase-wise.

Food, Industry, Northeastern States
The northeast region, with its vast resources and bio-diversity, produces ample exotic fruits and vegetables which can be made economically viable through the food processing industry. Pixabay

“We have set a target to benefit 90,000 farmers in the state by 2022,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Teli called on Arunachal Pradesh Governor B.D. Mishra at Raj Bhavan along with Chief Minister Khandu and State Industries Minister Tumke Bagra.

Mishra requested Teli to assist the people of Arunachal Pradesh in setting up food processing units in the state as it is leading in the production of organic produce in the country.

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Explaining to the Minister that due to the difficult mountainous terrain, timely transportation of agricultural and horticultural produce is very difficult, Mishra said the best solution to address the issue is to set up small and medium food processing industries in different locations where agro-horti products are produced in surplus. (IANS)