Cable television services in Salt Lake are likely to be disrupted in the midst of the festive season as the civic authorities plan to “discipline” last-mile operators for violating contracts and damaging several electricity poles in the township.
“The cable operators are behaving in the most undisciplined manner, violating terms and conditions and doing whatever they want,” said Bidhannagar Municipality chairman Dilip Gupta.
“We are going to take severe action against unauthorised cablemen who are not paying us service charge and also against those who are using a larger number of electric poles than for which they have paid,” he added.
The decision to launch a crackdown on cable operators was taken at a recent meeting of the municipality’s resource mobilising committee. “We have asked our engineering staff to look into the details,” said committee chairman Chandan Ghosh.
He alleged that a number of operators have not paid their dues to the municipality. “There are others who have paid for some electricity poles but are actually using many more and damaging them in the process,” stated the committee chairman.
Some of the operators, however, are keen to settle the issue. “We pay the authorities regularly and have cleared our dues till March this year,” claimed Rana Das, managing director of Linkmen Services. “We will pay the rest soon.”
Municipality officials said the cable operators were using at least 1,500 electricity poles throughout the township. More than Rs 10 lakh was being spent every year for repairing these poles, with most of the damage being done by the cable operators, they added.
In CE Block alone, 30 electric poles have been damaged and most are yet to be repaired. “I have sent a proposal to the municipality to seek a deposit of no less than Rs 5 lakh from these operators so that the damaged poles can be repaired with that money,” said Trinamul Congress councillor from ward 10, Sabyasachi Dutta.
“The condition of street lighting in Salt Lake is very poor and these operators are making things worse,” Dutta alleged.
And cable-operators could be looking at more taxing times ahead, warn officials. “We want to increase our income from cable-service taxes substantially this year,” confirmed the municipality’s resource mobilising committee chairman.
A section of viewers, too, is crying foul, this time over quality of cable service. “The service is poor, transmission gets interrupted regularly and they always have some excuse or the other,” complained Manimoy Saha of the Salt Lake Cable Viewers’ Forum.