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Panel to examine DoT’s bid to raise NFS budget by Rs11,000 crore

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-10-2017 PTI

New Delhi: A 3-member committee will examine a proposal by the department of telecom (DoT) to raise budget for laying out the communications network for army by about Rs11,000 crore, a person familiar with the development said.

DoT has proposed to increase the budget for setting up the network under the spectrum project by about Rs11,300 crore in addition to around Rs13,334 crore which was approved by the Cabinet in July 2012.

“Since there is a significant escalation of project cost, the telecom commission has asked to set up a 3 -member committee to examine reason for the increase. The decision will be taken based on the report of the panel,” a government official, who did not want to be named, told PTI.

The defence ministry and DoT had signed a pact in 2009-10 under which the former had agreed to vacate 25MHz of 3G spectrum and 20MHz in the 2G band in phases. In return, DoT had committed to set up an exclusive defence network for its communication services.

Another official involved in the project said the specifications approved by inter-ministerial group for network for spectrum (NFS) project was for very low specification network but defence has demanded “best-of-the-grade” product with high level of robustness and redundancy.

“Defence wants optical fibre cable (OFC) laid for them should have layers of iron so that it can be protected from damage. They want highest specification of products available in a category. This has led in escalation of cost. It has been felt that their demand is justified for security of the nation,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

He said that the defence wants mobile antenna height to be around 140metres while highest tower used for commercial mobile communication may be at most 100metres. “The wind speed at that height is very high and the antenna needs to be protected accordingly. Defence has added these specifications after 2012,” the official said.

The NFS project is being implements by state-run telecom firm BSNL. This is the second time DoT has proposed increase in the cost of NFS budget. The previous government had first approved Rs8,098 crore for the project which was increased by Rs5,236 crore later.

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