Airtel: Govt slams Airtel for ‘poor’ infra in extremist regions – Times of India

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By Amit

NEW DELHI: The government has come down heavily on Bharti Airtel for the company’s “abysmal performance” in installing telecom network and infrastructure projects, involving aspirational districts and those in the left-wing extremist (LWE) areas.
It has written a letter to company CEO Gopal Vittal on the matter, highlighting the “extremely poor” progress in executing the critical projects. The projects, running into several hundred crores of rupees, have been found to be going very slow, leading to a rebuke from the department of telecom (DoT) that commissions and funds them through the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF), which is a digital outreach programme of government, official sources said.
“It is disappointing to see that the present progress (or lack of it) does not instil confidence that Bharti Airtel would be able to deliver the project sites in as per project deadline of November 23, unless the higher management of Bharti Airtel reviews these projects on a weekly basis,” the letter addressed to Vittal has said, according to the sources. Questions sent to Airtel were not answered.
The criticism comes after a review meeting chaired by administrator of the USOF – who is also DoT’s additional secretary – that looked into the progress and planning of commissioning of mobile towers of 4G projects in the earmarked areas.”In fact, out of 1,083 sites planned in the scope of aspirational district project, no site has been commissioned after almost eight months of agreement. And even in the LWE-II project, out of scope of 940 sites, only nine sites have been commissioned.”
DoT said it has started co-ordination meetings with state governments, collectors, district forest officers to ensure speedy allocation of land for the projects. “It is requested that on your side, it may be ensured that at least 150 towers are commissioned in every month in both projects together beginning with February 2023,” DoT said.

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