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Telecom network working at 85% capacity in Amphan-hit areas of West Bengal

Telecom service-providers were able to restore connectivity to only 80-85 per cent capacity level in areas of West Bengal hit by super cyclone Amphan due to erratic power supply, continued fibre cuts and obstruction by people protesting against disruption in electricity and water supply, industry body COAI said on Monday.

Earlier in the day, the Department of Telecom had asked the companies to bring the connectivity level to 95 per cent by Monday evening.

“The overall telecom network has been restored to about 85 per cent level. The main reasons are erratic power supply, fibre cuts and problems in reaching places because roads are blocked by fallen trees and also obstruction by agitated people,” COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews told PTI.

He said that people in some parts of Kolkata, and North and South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal gheraoed telecom personnel who went to restore mobile towers.

“People have been agitating that they are not getting electricity. Hence, they block teams from restoration work. Fibre cuts have come down, but still going on,” Mathews said.

According to the Tower & Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), power supply situation in Kolkata has improved immensely, but it will take a while for electricity to get stable.

“Diesel generators, batteries and field rescue team are kept on readiness in case any situation arises. 90 per cent of the connectivity of private players has been restored in most of the areas of West Bengal, and Kolkata, North and South Parganas still remains a challenge,” TAIPA Director General T R Dua said.

The industry has also requested the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to help them in availability of diesel in some of the areas like North 24 and South 24 Parganas, East Midnapore and Howrah.

“The matter has been taken further by DoT for smooth operations,” Dua said.

According to industry sources, the government-run BSNL is working only at 60-65 per cent capacity due to which overall connectivity is now between 80-85 per cent, while 90 per cent of capacity of private operators has been restored.

However, the BSNL denied the claim.

BSNL Chairman and Managing Director P K Purwar said that the company’s network is working at 75 per cent level in the Kolkata circle.

Earlier in the day, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a tweet, said that he spoke to Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, BSNL CMD and Chief General Managers (CGMs) of West Bengal and Odisha.

“Asked them to expedite restoration of telephone lines. They are doing their best though there are issues of power supply & removal of uprooted trees. Told them to work with local authorities & get it expedited,” Prasad said.

Later in the evening, the telecom minister updated that the network of BSNL has been restored in Odisha.

“Chief General Manager (CGM) @BSNLCorporate of #Odisha circle has informed me that restoration work of BSNL telecom network in the state has been completed now,” Prasad said.

Network of private operators was restored a day after cyclone Amphan hit the Odisha coast, according to industry bodies.

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