The Ministry of Defence has revised its 2018 rulebook to allow installation of telecom infrastructure on defence land for improving communication network quality and facilitating 5G rollout. The revised regime will be aligned with the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (RoW) Rules.

Under the revised rules, cantonment boards and station headquarters will get authority to approve within a deadline installation of telecom infra on defence land. Meanwhile, permissions for development of shared communication tower and other telecom infrastructure in military stations or cantonments governed by the 2018 policy, have been superseded. Further, applications received for installation of telecom infrastructure on defence land shall, henceforth, be processed in accordance with Indian Telegraph RoW Rules 2016, formulated by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the revised rulebook noted.

The new framework has simplified the existing regime, which was found tedious, multi-layered and time consuming. As per revised rules, the cantonment boards will have to seek prior no-objection certificate (NOC) from agency/agencies under whose charge the defence land falls, for areas inside a cantonment. Meanwhile, for locations outside civil areas, the boards will have to seek NOC from station headquarters in view of security concerns.

That said, the NOC processing will be made timebound, unlike the prior rules. The NOC granting agency will have to decide in 30 days, failing which the cantonment board will process the application. All such applications for telecom infrastructure installation by a service provider will be available on an online portal to be developed by the Directorate General Defence Estates (DGDE) and will be given automatic ‘deemed sanction’ if not processed in 60 days.

The deemed sanction, however, will be given only if the application is also on the ‘Gati Shakti Sanchar’ portal and an alert will be sounded to the DGDE/Army Headquarter if the cantonment board or station headquarter fails to respond to an application after 45 days. The changes came after rounds of inter-ministerial meetings to create a smooth, predictable and time-bound framework across ministries, departments and states for disposal of RoW permissions which have delayed projects.