The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and telecom industry under the aegis of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) are working together with the support of Maharashtra government for facilitating the deployment of the Telecom Infrastructure in the state of Maharashtra.

Telecom industry has been taking up the right of way (RoW) related issues such as reduction and rationalisation of restoration charge with respect to deployment of the underground fibre, grant of permission to telecom service providers (TSPs) for doing the self-restoration with provision of performance bank guarantee of nominal value, withdrawal of the one-time access charges being levied in Mumbai, regularisation of towers, single window online clearance mechanism, etc. with the state government.

On the request of the industry, recently, K Rajaraman, secretary, DoT, took up this issue with Debashish Chakravarty, chief secretary, Maharashtra and have requested him to intervene personally and instruct the concerned authorities to review the state telecom infrastructure policy (issued on February 17, 2018) and align the same with Indian telegraph RoW rules of 2016 (as amended from time to time).

Subsequent to the letter from secretary, DoT LSA head, Maharashtra, has also in its letter to principal secretary (IT) Maharashtra urged to align the Maharashtra policy with RoW rules 2016 and incorporate the provisions of overhead OFC, to define that applicable charges/fees includes maintaining, working, repairing, transferring, shifting etc. activities along with establishing of the telegraph infrastructure, include provision for regularisation of existing towers installed prior of Maharashtra RoW policy 2018.

As per reports, Mumbai and Pune have one of the highest RoW related charges in terms of restoration charge and access charges for laying fibre in the country. Also, considering the request of COAI and with the intervention of deputy chief minister, Maharashtra, recently, a committee was constituted under the chairmanship of principal secretary (UDD), to study aspects of restoration charges, access charges, regularisation of tower and property tax on towers, etc. and further to make recommendations.

Commenting on the initiative, Lt. Gen. Dr S P Kochhar, director general, COAI, said, “The covid-19 pandemic has shown that connectivity is essential, more than ever before, for citizens. We appreciate the intervention by the secretary, DoT, chief secretary of Maharashtra, other state government officials and the DoT LSA, to resolve the RoW related issues for faster roll-out of telecom infrastructure across Maharashtra. The industry is committed and is putting in best efforts to make Maharashtra digitally advanced.”