The Indian government is set to start work on a large project to install several renewable energy-powered mobile communication towers across nine states in the central belt of the country as it pushes for development in economically underdeveloped regions.
Last month, the central government gave approval to an ambitious project that would see as many as 2,200 mobile communication towers erected in nine states affected by left-wing extremism. These states are Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The towers will be erected in the areas of these states most affected by the left-wing extremism.
India has among the largest number of mobile users in the world and is expected to have about 815 million users by year’s end. The current government clearly sees mobile as a useful device to push development in the economically weaker regions of the country. A number of government programs have been connected to mobile communication to dispense information to fishermen and farmers. The government will soon launch the Digital India project to ensure that every Indian has a smartphone by 2019.
Mobile communications as a foundation for economic development is critical to regions affected by left-wing extremism. The extremists wreak havoc in these areas on the pretext that the state and central government have neglected them, and abused their land and forest resources.
Most of the extremists operate in dense forests where setting up diesel-powered mobile towers is risky and highly uneconomical due to safety concerns and hassles involved in regular refuelling. Thus, solar-powered mobile towers are the clear answer. Diesel prices are being deregulated, and are rapidly increasing, making the fuel financially unviable for the purpose of power generation. Solar-powered towers are self-sustainable and don’t require refuelling. And there are little to no emissions from solar-powered mobile towers.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been pushing the mobile companies to switch to renewable energy-powered mobile towers across the country. The authority had issued a consultation paper to assess the potential of using solar, wind or fuel cells to power mobile towers.
According to guidelines issued in 2013, 75% of towers located in rural India and 33% of towers located in urban areas should be at least partially powered by renewable energy sources. The government has also asked the mobile companies to declare the carbon footprint of their network twice a year and reduce emissions by 17% by 2018-19.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0
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