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TRAI recommends Rs.2,278 crore investment for Andamans, Lakshadweep

Posted on Jul 22 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, July 22 : The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Tuesday recommended capital investment of around Rs.2,278 crore to improve of telecom services in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands : and Lakshadweep.

"The investment comprises Rs.1,773 crore approx (including Rs.1,000 crore towards submarine cable project already approved by the Planning Commission) for ANI and Rs.505 crore approx (including Rs.468 crore for submarine cable) for Lakshadweep," a TRAI release said.

The regulator has recommended that, apart from one-time capital investment, the telecom department or union territory (UT) administration should compensate the telecom operation on yearly basis as viability gap funding. It has recommended Rs.130 crore (Rs.104 crore for ANI and Rs. 26 crore for Lakshadweep) on annual basis for five years.

ANI is the largest UT of India, lying in the south-eastern part of Bay of Bengal, having 572 islands scattered over an area of around 800 Kms from North to South. Lakshadweep with an area of around 32 sq km is the smallest UT of India on the west of the state of Kerala. It is a group of 36 small islands in the Arabian Sea.

Earlier the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had sought TRAI's recommendations on a comprehensive plan for improving telecom services in ANI and Lakshadweep and also to assess the investment required for providing quality telecommunication services in these islands.

TRAI recommended 2G services in all habitation with population greater than 100. The authority is of the view that all the uncovered villages should be covered in a phased manner. It also said 3G network will be extended to all the district head quarter and sub district headquarter and entire urban population of ANI and Lakshadweep.

TRAI recommended that in addition to the already planned connectivity through Chennai, connectivity of ANI should also be made from Kolkata through a submarine cable. The submarine cable connecting Chennai - Port Blair - Kolkata could be named the 'SAARC' cable.

These islands are lagging far behind in telecom infrastructure development as compared to other parts of the country due to their difficult geographic terrain. Today, out of total 396 villages in ANI, there are 204 villages which have no telecom connectivity till date.

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