The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is set to sign a contract on Tuesday with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm, formally allowing the company to lay underground cables for 4G services in the city.
The nod comes a month after the Reliance chief met Mamata Banerjee in Mumbai on the sidelines of a session with industrialists.
Ambani is believed to have told the chief minister on August 1 about problems Reliance Jio Infocomm was facing in Bengal in laying 4G cables.
The company needs permission from civic authorities to dig roads to place the cables and build towers to transmit signal.
The CMC has decided to charge a token licence fee of Re 1 for the project.
“There is no precedent of charging a licence fee for such a project. We did not when 3G cables were being laid and we won’t for 4G,” said Atin Ghosh, the mayoral council member (engineering).
Sources said a legal hitch might delay the formal nod. The signing of the contract was postponed on Monday because the decision was not cleared by the civic house.
Any new decision or work that involves investment of over Rs 5 crore needs to be cleared by the civic house, which meets once a month with all the councillors. It is the civic body’s equivalent of the Assembly.
“The decision to let Reliance lay the cables with Re 1 as licence fee has not been passed in the civic house yet,” said a source.
But it has been passed in the mayoral council meeting, the equivalent of the state or Union cabinet.
“After that was discovered, we had to defer the signing till Tuesday when the mayor will use his special power to seal the deal,” the source added.
Section 37 of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation Act, 1980, empowers the mayor to sign a new decision and get it ratified by the civic house later. Since Trinamul enjoys a majority in the civic house, getting a clearance should not be an impediment.
Reliance will lay cables under 700km of road in the CMC area. The company is already working on 400km of city roads not in the CMC’s jurisdiction.
Reliance will invest Rs 3,000 crore in the project that is set to create jobs for about 5,000 people.
The cables would allow faster Internet connectivity and boost infrastructure development in the city.
With a 4G connection, a movie can be downloaded in less than 5 minutes, much faster than 2G or even 3G.
Reliance Jio officials had said the plan was to roll out 4G services in Calcutta by the first quarter of 2014.