The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has launched its centralised Right of Way (RoW) portal, Sugam Sanchar. According to the information provided on the portal, Sugam Sanchar is a collaborative institutional mechanism between all stakeholders including Central and State/UT government(s), local bodies, and service providers to facilitate RoW application process through a single interface. This portal will act as a single-window clearance for tracking the status of right-of-way applications. The newly launched portal would also provide a robust mechanism to achieve our goal of “Broadband to All” as envisaged in the National Digital Communication Policy-2018.

The centralised portal aims to bring transparency, accountability and responsiveness to all stakeholders while processing the application. This will also help in leapfrogging towards “Ease of Doing Business” while maintaining a fast-tracking application process to overcome the challenges of implementation of Right of Way Rules-2016.

As per the central RoW dashboard data, notably 33 state/union territories (UTs) have been onboarded on the portal, the telecom department has received 53,122 applications while 27,733 applications have been approved. Further, 14,771 applications have been rejected by the telecom department, 8,042 are pending and 2,576 applications have been reverted.

The DoT, on April 15, 2022 released a draft policy guidelines to bring consistency in RoW related procedures across states and spur the deployment of telecom infrastructure ahead of a pan-India rollout of 5G technology. This also included a provision to set up an online RoW portal. As per the information provided, the centralised RoW portal will enable applicants from telecom services providers (TSPs), infrastructure providers (IPs), internet services providers (ISPs), and others, to apply for RoW approvals for laying optical fibre cables (OFC) and erecting telecom infrastructures like towers to submit their applications to various agencies of state/UT governments and local bodies. Going forward, the centralised RoW portal will be integrated with central RoW portals of central ministries/departments like Ministry of Defence; Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change; Ministry of Road Transport and Highways; Ministry of Railways; Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas; Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs; Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways; Ministry of Civil Aviation; Department of posts.