Director General of Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), Tilak Raj Dua, today said technicians are the employees of a sub-contractor and are stationed at mobile tower locations. They are responsible for the maintenance and servicing of towers. A typical technician services about 12-15 towers to ensure that telecom networks are running for the people in the region. Any hindrance in maintaining the towers affects the network, causing disruption of service in the region. Hence, the role of site technicians is crucial in this regard, he said.

According to the Director General, TAIPA, while the government aspires to connect the villages and provide network through its Digital India initiative, there is a serious bottleneck in executing this plan in Punjab. The field technician finds it difficult to perform his duties peacefully because of external influences. While most technicians want to do their work honestly, they are held back by some of their own colleagues with vested interests.

Traditionally, the telecom tower sector is dependent on diesel. As the sector evolved, alternative solutions of electricity and batteries were used. Unfortunately, the pilferage of diesel has continued since its inception and hampers the daily operations even today.

“In Punjab, with the continuity of instances, we have uncovered that some technicians are involved in diesel pilferage for personal benefits. They damage the telecom and power equipment at sites at will with the objective of pocketing diesel, thereby causing damage to the towers, including fire, in addition to creating network disruption. We are thankful to the Punjab Police for its continuous support in curbing this practice,” Dua said.

According to the senior TAIPA official, “Aligned with the government’s broader agenda, the industry has been rolling out alternative technologies to develop green sustainable telecommunication and decrease dependence on diesel. Even then, the consumption of diesel continues to increase instead of decrease.”

As they are not unionised, they threaten and influence the fellow technicians to join them and hold telecom companies to ransom for demanding extra diesel and cause a lot of network outage. At their instigation, most technicians in Punjab either voluntarily or under coercion behave in a manner hostile to telecom networks, he said. – Tribune India


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