New mobile data plan for Naxal areas

first_imgThe Union Home Ministry is examining the proposed specifications for providing data connectivity services through mobile towers installed in the Left Wing Extremism-affected areas across 10 States, in view of the possible security implications.In coordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Department of Telecommunications has already got towers installed in over 2,000 sites during Phase-I of the mobile connectivity scheme in Naxal-affected districts. The Ministry, in consultation with the States, has recommended more than 2,700 other sites to be covered and about 150 more locations have been identified for tower installation.Even as assessment of the connectivity provided during the Phase-I is under way, earlier this year, States like Madhya Pradesh have felt the need to upgrade the output of existing towers to overcome poor area coverage and network congestion.Issues related to installation of towers and improved road and air connectivity were taken up during a review meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on May 8. It was attended by the Chief Ministers of six States, apart from Intelligence and security officials.The government, at the meeting, decided that the Phase-II of installation of mobile towers would soon be initiated after incorporating the “experiences and problems” faced during the Phase-I of implementation.The States like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, particularly for the Bastar region that is considered to be one of the hotbeds of Naxal activities, have also sought an upgrade of mobile communications, introduction of data services and providing high-speed connectivity for purposes of operational efficiency.Based on the suggestions received from various States, it is learnt that a dedicated team in the Department of Telecommunications is to soon finalise the specifications for data connectivity during Phase-II and in this regard, the MHA’s response has been sought.While mobile connectivity plays a key role in the maintenance of law and order, experts feel that data connectivity in sensitive areas often works as a double-edged sword.Jiten Jain, co-founder of cyber threat intelligence company Voyager Infosec, said it was likely that extremists would were likely to use it for propaganda and other illegal activities.“It will throw a security challenge to the forces. Therefore, if required, limited access to certain public utilities, like that of railways and news portals, may only be provided during the initial phase, as a pilot. The situation can then be reviewed, may be in six months, and on the basis of the findings, more services can be included. This is technically achievable,” said Mr. Jain.last_img

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