Phulbani, August 3 (LocalWire): Thanks to the initiative by an enterprising block administrator in Phulbani district of the state, residents of two hill-locked villages – Badaki and Dubagada – finally have their mobile phone ringing.
With BSNL, the state-run service provider shying away from installing tower because of lack of commercial viability, the Block Development Officer posted at Phulbani took the lead in installing a 30-foot-tall mobile tower made from the junked tube well pipes that were gathering dust at the Badaki gram panchayat office.
The local BSNL authorities inspected the indigenously built tower and found it perfect for mobile connectivity across the two villages bringing cheers for the 3,600 residents, who are elated to find their handsets connected to the mobile phone network.
The twin villages, located barely 8 kilometers off Phulbani district headquarters town had no access to the mobile network.
“Villagers were persistently demanding mobile connectivity, but our hands were tight as extending mobile network was not our job.
I took up the matter with BSNL but they flatly refused due to financial constraints.
On being pressed, they budged and set preconditions.
They sought for a low-cost tower and uninterrupted power supply,” BDO Subrat Kumar Jena told the Localwire.
“During one visit to the local panchayat office, I found heaps of old and junked tube well pipes gathering dust at the panchayat office.
This is when the idea of building the tower stuck me.
The BSNL engineers were consulted. We built the 30-foot tower under their technical supervision.
The panchayat office campus was picked up for tower installation as the service provider sought for round-the-clock power supply,” he said.
“The welders who were pressed into service for tower making were paid Rs 7,000.
Two power backup inverters were procured at Rs 20,000.
The cost of tower installation was nil as locals volunteered to put in place the tower.
Thus the entire cost for the project stood at Rs 27,000 and it was borne from the contingency funds of the panchayat body,” Jena stated.
On inspection, the BSNL authorities found the tower good enough for providing the cellular network to the hill-locked villages.
“We bow before the BDO’s whole-hearted effort and zeal to provide mobile cover to the twin villages.
After due approval, we have linked both the villages with network from the tower.
It is providing the network to mobile users of both the villages,” BSNL sub-divisional engineer Ranjan Kumar Behera told the Localwire.
The tower has also helped BSNL provide internet connectivity to the government-run community service center in Badaki village.
“With the internet, people do not need to travel to Phulbani district headquarter town for online direct cash transfer benefits under various government schemes,” the officer said, adding that it has been decided to take this case as a model to extend the mobile network in uncovered areas through low-cost locally made towers.