The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Monsoon cell scheme runs into rough weather

Slowed down by the killer cable and now stumped by a demand glut, Reliance Infocomm’s much-hyped Monsoon Hangama has run dry in Calcutta.

A senior Reliance executive told Metro on Tuesday that handsets had flown off the shelves in the first two days of the scheme faster than the company had anticipated, creating a gap between supply and demand.

Under the Monsoon Hangama plan, Reliance is offering cellphone connections along with a handset for an up-front payment of Rs 501. What’s more, a customer has three options to choose from, with incoming calls and SMS being free on all counts.

Reliance has now been forced to issue a circular announcing that offering connections and handsets under the new scheme is being put on hold.

“We knew that the Rs 501-scheme would create a real hangama. But we did not anticipate such a rush,” admitted the official, explaining why the police had to be called in on Monday to control the crowds denied a chance to go cellular.

The shutters at Reliance House were downed on Monday, but a large number of customers were trying to slip in through the side gates and book a cellular berth.

Reliance Infocomm, meanwhile, is waiting for a Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) green signal to expand its base in the city. The company now has 119 towers in the CMC area, with 350 km of optic-fibre cable. It aims to lay 1,560 km of cable.

The CMC, however, has withheld permission to the company to lay the cable following the death of Amit Dalmia on May 12. Amit, 26, had driven over the exposed metal covering of a Reliance cable on Camac Street, which pierced the undercarriage of his car before ripping through his lungs and heart.

“Unlike cellular companies, our towers are connected through the optic-fibre cable. Although we have the approval to set up 47 more towers, we are unable to do so due to the incomplete cable network,” the Reliance executive confirmed.

Claiming that the company was being blamed for the damage caused by various other agencies digging up the city roads and exposing the Reliance cables, the official rued the fact that “the CMC permission is not forthcoming and our project is not able to progress”.

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