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Mufti bags mobile promise

New Delhi, Dec. 3: The Union government has decided to allow cellular mobile services in the state of Jammu and Kashmir by April next year and completion of the first railway link up to Udhampur by 2004.

Earlier this year, the Centre had closed STD/ISD and internet booths to tackle the problem of terrorism in the state. However, in August it allowed them to start functioning amidst growing pressure from the state government.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd will be the only operator in the state, since the telecom circle was not put up for bidding in the first three rounds and was offered in the fourth round, provided the security clearances were obtained from the defence ministry.

Mobile telephone services for the state were cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security earlier this year.

In the first phase, Srinagar and Jammu will get cellular mobile services and the facility will be expanded gradually to other districts.

An assurance to launch mobile service in the state was given by communications minister Pramod Mahajan to chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today.

“We have been told to make the necessary arrangement for the cellular mobile launch in the state by early next year. But before that we will need to get the necessary security clearance from various departments. There are necessary safeguards in the licence conditions on security aspects that were given to the bidders in the fourth round of bidding,” said a senior communications ministry official.

The licence conditions stipulate: “The licensee shall ensure that the cellsite or radio transmitters wherever located shall be at a distance of 10 kilometres from the international border with India. The transmitters and cellsite will work in a fashion that any signal or signals emanating therefrom, fade out when nearing or about to cross international borders and also become unusable with a reasonable distance across such borders.”

Mahajan also promised the chief minister that his ministry would put in the necessary effort to make the state a front runner in the field of information technology.

Mahajan also promised the chief minister to set up information technology booths at block levels. He also assured that his department would take necessary measures to expand ITI Ltd’s activities to the state, which would create more jobs.

Currently, only telephone handsets are manufactured in the ITI unit. The communications ministry plans to allow manufacture of access instruments and also power units for maintenance of telecom equipment and network.

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