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Spell out policy to allow telecom cos to lay OFC: HC asks Maha

bombay high court

Mumbai : The Bombay High Court today asked Maharashtra government to disclose in an affidavit its policy for allowing telecom companies to lay down underground optical fibre cables for broadband and mobile connectivity.

The direction was given by a bench headed by Justices Abhay Oka on a public interest litigation filed by Kalpesh Yadav, General Secretary of Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena, the students wing of MNS, Pune unit.

The HC asked the state to enumerate its policy on the issue within four weeks.

The PIL alleged that in some areas of Pune, telecom companies such as Tata Teleservices Maharashtra, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Tel Ltd, Idea Cellular and Vodafone, had allegedly excavated road and laid down cables without paying any licence fees and also without obtaining permission from the state government.

The petitioner further alleged that he had learnt through RTI that the companies were unauthorisedly laying down cables, resulting in loss to public exchequer in areas such as Ramwadi to Airport Road and Mundwa bypass road in Pune.

The unauthorised laying down of cables, ducts after illegal excavation of road created problems for vehicular traffic movement and also resulted in losses to public exchequer.

It should be the duty of the state to issue licences for such purpose and collect fees from these telecom companies which earn profits by providing mobile and broadband services to customers, said the PIL.

There should be an agreement between such companies and the government for payment of royalty to the state for laying down underground cables and such agreements should spell out the licence fees payable by the users, it said.

The PIL alleged that currently unauthorised excavation of roads was being done by the telecom companies in various parts of the state.

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