Mrunal Manmay Dash

More than 5000 mobile towers will be erected in remote locations of Odisha for better mobile connectivity, informed Union Minister of Communications, Railways, Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday.

He announced this during a one-on-one interview with OTV after launching the 5G services in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

Speaking to OTV, Vaishnaw said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi always keeps Odisha’s interest in his mind. The launching of 5G services in India from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack is a step towards fulfilling that commitment. It is a proud moment for Odisha as a 5G lab has been established here for the youths to take training and do experiments in 5G technology."

Asked about the rural connectivity and mobile tower density in interior areas of Odisha, Vaishnaw said, “PM Modi has approved Rs 5,600 crore to establish more mobile towers in 7000 villages which have very less or no mobile towers. In fact, 100 mobile towers have already been erected and inaugurated today in remote areas of Koraput, Kalahandi and Kandhamal. And we will put more and more towers in more places every month. The entire project will be completed by August 15, 2024 and the whole of Odisha will be covered by good quality cellular service.”

As far as the safety and security of the mobile towers in Maoist infested areas is concerned, Vaishnaw said the law and order is a State subject and requested the Odisha government to provide security to the mobile towers in the sensitive areas.

On allegations of only 488 new towers being sanctioned in Odisha, Vaishnaw said, “The BJD should check its fact first. Not 488, but a total of 5000 new mobile towers have been sanctioned by the Centre. It takes around Rs 1 crore to erect one mobile tower. So for 5000 towers, Rs 5,600 crore will be spent in total.”

Allaying fears about 5G frequency affecting the birds and insects, Vaishnaw said those are only rumours and do not have any scientific backing. 5G frequency is absolutely safe.

The fifth generation service of mobile network (5G) will be available in the Twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack and a few other cities in the state from today. Reliance Jio aims to extend the service to other cities in the coming days.

Vaishnaw on pending railway projects in Odisha

Upon asked about the pending railway projects in Odisha, Vaishnaw threw the ball to Odisha government’s court. “We need some basic things for completion of projects. The first one is sufficient funds, which have already been sanctioned by the Centre. The second thing is will power. PM Modi’s team is filled with willpower to do developmental works. The third one is land from the State government. All the pending railway projects will be completed, once we get land, law and order support from the Odisha government.”

“We are anyways laying far more railway lines every year. Earlier, it was 20—25 km per year. But last year, we laid around 280 kms of railway line,” Vaishnaw said.

“Odisha have been sanctioned Rs 10,000 crore Railway budget this year. This is not a small amount. Apart from that, 36 railway stations in Odisha have been taken under Railway’s modernization plans to turn them into World Class stations,” Vaishnaw added.

Speaking about Indian Railway’s flagship project, Vande Bharat Express, Vaishnaw said, “We are going to introduce a Vande Bharat Express very soon. It is a world class train and the passengers will enjoy a phenomenal experience. Its supply chain is gradually getting stabilized. We are gradually increasing the production volume. It will be launched in Odisha very soon.

On the other hand, Vaishnaw shrugged a question about speculations about him running for the MP seat from Cuttack. He said, “BJP is a disciplined party. We are all disciplined workers of the party and will continue to work that way.”

(Reported By Swadheen Rout, OTV)