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Ravi Shankar Prasad asks telecom companies to improve network

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Picture Courtesy:-www.digit.in

New Delhi: Asserting that there is a need for all the telecom service providers who are operating in India to ramp up their network facilities to improve service quality, Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday said he does not wish to be known as “call drop minister”.

“I regret to say very frankly it took a lot of nudging on my part to all of you to publicly acknowledge that there is a need for improvement and spectrum is less, but you need to improve the network. I am sorry, I don’t want to be known as call drop minister, sorry, I am very clear ,” he said at the second edition of Ericsson’s ‘Broadband for All’ Summit, organized in partnership with the Swedish Embassy and Cellular Operators’ Association of India.

The government is accountable to peoples convenience, the operators must rise to the occasion to reinforce their networks where infrastructure is lacking, operators must invest,

Referring to Bharti Entreprises chairman Sunil Mittal’s address earlier in the event, Prasad said, “I am complimenting you for Rs.60,000 crore, they must be used very quickly and I would hold you for your larger commitment that you said on July in the presence of prime minister (Narendra Modi) that you will invest Rs.80,000 crore. I hope you remember that.”

This year is the largest capex year for Airtel, we will be spending about Rs.16,000 crore on network,

On Monday, Bharti Airtel announced an investment of Rs.60,000 crore which will go into capital expenditure on fibre, cables and changing older networks.

(Inputs from IANS)

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Centre should incentivise private Commercial Banks for opening branches in Chhattisgarh’s tribal areas: CM

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Tribals in Madhya Pradesh (representational Image), Wikimedia

New Delhi, April 9, 2017: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Sunday said the Centre should incentivise private commercial banks for opening branches in remote tribal areas of the state.

He also stressed the need to improve the penetration of telecom services in tribal areas of the state.

The Centre can incentivise by giving permission to them to open 2-3 extra branches in A-plus cities for every branch they open in a remote tribal area, he said at the 11th Standing Committee meeting of the Inter-State Council here.

Raman Singh pointed out that in Bastar region, the coverage of banking services was a mere 10 per cent and in Surguja district it was just 15 per cent.

The Chief Minister said that since private telecom operators are not willing to expand their services in remote tribal areas, the state government should be provided assistance from Universal Service Obligation Fund to ensure this service in these areas.

He demanded resumption of central assistance for eight Naxal-affected districts of Chhattisgarh. (IANS)

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55,669 villages yet to get mobile telephonic services: Ravi Shankar Prasad

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New Delhi: Mobile telephonic services still hasn’t reached 55,669 villages in India, as the government informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

At September-end, the teledensity at rural and urban levels stood at 48.79 percent and 152.36 percent, respectively, said Ravi Shankar Prasad, the minister for communications and information technology.

“541,939 villages out of total 597,608 villages in the country are already covered with mobile services, leaving only 55,669 villages ie. 9.31 percent without coverage,” said Prasad during Question Hour.

Prasad informed that the reason for this shortage, despite the government’s endeavor to ensure telecom connectivity, is because the teledensity level is determined by the consumer’s purchasing ability.

“The increase in rural teledensity has gathered momentum in recent times but the wide gap between rural and urban teledensity can be explained by the difference in purchasing power of rural and urban consumers,” he said.

As per the National Telecom Policy objectives, rural teledensity will be increased to 70 percent and 100 percent by 2017 and 2020 respectively.

Several steps are being taken in this regard and “2,199 mobile towers are being set up in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states with a total estimated cost of Rs 3,567.58 crores,” said the Communications Minister.

As of November 30, 2015, 1,134 mobile towers were in working order.(image: theguardian)

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Bihar poll diary: Campaigning in the time of call drops

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At least one thing is sure. Call drops don’t just affect the common man. Even ministers are victims of the sudden disconnect or silence at other end of the mobile connection.

During campaigning in Bihar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communication and IT, was to be contacted by the ‘war room’ set up by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state capital, to inform him that he had to address a press conference that afternoon. Anant Kumar, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, who headed the election war room at the office in Beer Chand Patel Path in Patna, asked one of the party workers to connect the call to Prasad.

But as is evident in many places, except for monosyllabic conversation, nothing could be heard from the other side, despite repeated attempts to connect. Eventually, the worker had to fall back on the tried and tested land line at the minister’s residence in Patna to convey the message.

The frustration in the office is high as the workers are called upon to connect to various leaders throughout the day. Often the call-drop menace strikes at the most inopportune moment.

Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Finance, too appeared extremely harassed soon after a press conference in Patna, when he received calls but could not converse for any length of time. He too eventually sought to reach his caller through the land line.

At least the telecos can’t be blamed for being elitist — equally bad service is doled out to the high and mighty.

Keeping Maharashtra leaders away-

One group of people were conspicuous by their absence from campaigning in Bihar. Worried that the migrant problem in Maharashtra may become a poll issue in Bihar, the BJP appears to have asked it leaders from the Western state to keep away. Except for Nitin Gadkari, none of the union ministers or leaders from Maharashtra were seen hitting the election trail.

Apart from Gadkari, there are four ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, including Piyush Goel, Suresh Prabhu, Hansraj Ahir and Prakash Jawdekar. Because of the attack on people from Bihar, the BJP quietly kept the four of them away, not wanting to have rival politicians raise the issue.

In contrast, leaders from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh were deputed in full force.

Sidelining Smriti Irani-

The BJP campaign strategists have categorised the 243 assembly constituencies in Bihar from A to D, depending on their winnability. Union Minister for Human Resource Development Smriti Irani — otherwise deemed to be a star campaigner — has been relegated to nine constituencies designated in ‘D’ category. Despite demands from various local leaders in other constituencies, she has not been able to use her presence or lung power to impress voters in many places. This is similar to what happened in Maharashtra Assembly polls when she was given just six constituencies to address. Perhaps that’s the reason why she is seen reaching out to people during her morning walks or later when she takes a ride on her scooty. Who says glamour wins the day?

Several contenders emerge for CM chair

By not declaring its chief ministerial candidate for the Assembly polls, the BJP has triggered a rush among wannabe aspirants to stake their claim to the chair. While senior state party leaders Sushil Kumar Modi and Nand Kishor Yadav were already seen as candidates, two more names have started doing the rounds in the local media.

One of them is Rajendra Singh who was general secretary (organisation) in Jharkhand before he jumped into the electoral fray from Central Bihar’s Dinara constituency. His claim to fame is that like Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, he is from Sangh background.

Another name doing the rounds is of Prem Kumar. An eight-term MLA from Gaya and a senior BJP leader, Kumar hails from an extremely backward class category.

Informally, it’s a four-legged race. But as the counting days near, more hats are likely to be thrown into the ring.

Birthday gift for Patriarch, but from whom?

November 8, the date of results of the Bihar election, has a significance for the BJP beyond the ordinary. It’s the birthday of Lal Krishna Advani, the sometimes rebel, sometimes sulking patriarch, who attains 88 years on that day. Despite making it to the party’s star campaigners list, Advani has not addressed a single rally so far. In an election, seen to be a direct battle between Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, it would seem churlish on the part of the party not to field a well-known orator.

The buzz doing the rounds in the party circles in Bihar is that the elections will be like a birthday gift for Advani, but there’s considerable uncertainty as to who will give that gift to him — Modi or Nitish. Guffaws are generally heard in gatherings where this is being said.

(Brajendra Nath Singh, IANS)