The court allows service providers permission to execute HP Telecom Department’s recommendations for improved internet access inside the state, is upheld by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh through the learned Judge JUSTICEVIVEK SINGH THAKUR, in the case of Ms. Vandana Misra v. The Chief Engineer, PWD, Director Town, (CWP No. 3123 of 2021)
Brief facts of the case:
The petitioner has submitted the case as Pro bono Publico, underlining the condition of the citizens of the state, particularly the residents of rural and underdeveloped sections of the state, with regards to internet access.
The Government of India created a new telecom strategy in 1994 with the intention of giving the growth of telecom services in the country the greatest priority, in accordance with and in furtherance of the Government of India’s Economic Policy. Thereafter, standards were established to streamline the allocation of right of way to telecom service licensees and infrastructure suppliers. These mobile guidelines were created with the goal of establishing a robust telecommunication infrastructure with adequate bandwidth at affordable rates, and to promote the development and proliferation of information technology, electronic governance, e-commerce, and the convergence of the information, communication, and entertainment sectors in order to improve the state of the economy, enhance the quality of life for citizens, and ensure the development of urban and rural areas.
The Division Bench took note of the numerous recommendations made by the Deputy Director General (Rural) HP, LSA Department of Telecom Shimla, and issued the following directives requiring immediate attention:
- The Chief Engineer of HPPWD is directed to convene a meeting of the representatives of the Town and Country Planning, Information Technology, Rural Development, Urban Development, and Municipal Corporation, Shimla, to examine the possibility of replacing the requirement of submitting a Building Completion Certificate with the submission of a Structure Suitability Certificate alone or in combination with a provision for granting completion certificates floor-by-floor to ensure the structure’s suitability.
2.It is ordered that the inclusion of a paragraph requiring the building of common ducts in bids and tender papers be made obligatory for the construction or widening of highways. Consequently, the adoption of common ducts will expedite the deployment of telecom infrastructure while avoiding the public nuisance of road digging.
- It is also instructed that there should be no RoW fees or that they should be much lower than the existing rate.
Since there is currently no code to accommodate fibre in modern housing complexes and communities, which slows down the rollout of telecom equipment, the State is soliciting opinions on the matter.
- It is instructed that the idea for a penalty provision on fibre cut be included in all solicited documents/bids by various State departments in order to reduce and quickly restore the service.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – HARILAKSHMI