The state government has granted a fresh right of way (RoW) permission to Reliance Jio Infocomm to lay 1,956.26 km optical fibre cable (OFC).  However, there is a condition that they should meet the commitments given while taking the RoW permission earlier. Reliance Jio was earlier granted RoW permission for laying 1,428.42 kilometres OFC in 2013. As part of further expansion of their network, Reliance Jio has sought permission for laying 1,956.26 kilometres OFC covering all the 14 districts. The fresh RoW permission was granted on the basis of a revised RoW guidelines issued by the government in 2016, when the UDF was in power. 

As per the guidelines, Reliance Jio will have to pay Rs 75,000 per kilometre to the government as a one time contribution, which comes to around Rs 15 crore, and a bank guarantee of Rs 50 per metre, which comes to around Rs 10 crore.  The other conditions include free connectivity of 100 mbps at the three network operating centres in the state, 50 mbps at all district point of presence and 10 mbps in taluk head quarters. IT department sources said that the commitments regarding free connectivity as per the RoW permission given in 2013 was not yet fully executed by Reliance Jio.  Hence, the fresh RoW permission was granted on condition that the previous commitments, especially with regard to connectivity to couple of districts, would have to be executed before commissioning the fresh OFC connectivity.

Though this has not been mentioned in the Government Order granting the fresh RoW permission, there is a provision for the government to impose additional conditions. The Kerala State IT Mission has to ensure that the bandwidth are provided as per the agreement. At present a major chuck of government networks are using the free internet provided by various telecom operators as part of RoW permission, IT department sources said. The government will also set up an online application for granting further permissions for trenching roads as part of laying the OFC. Trenching should have to be done through the extreme edge of the road without causing any damage to tarred portion. The service provider would be also made liable for any accidents caused as part of the cable laying process.

Meanwhile, the Public Works Department and Local bodies had raised objection towards the entire one time contribution being given to IT department. While revising the RoW conditions, the previous UDF government had decided that 50 per cent of the one-time contribution received for RoW would be utlised for enhancing public IT infrastructure and contribute the remaining to the Chief Minister’s distress relief fund.  Since the PWD and LSG departments raised the fresh demand, the Cabinet would have to take a call on the issue, sources said. – Deccan Chronicle 


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