Army, people power cell service in village on Pangong shore

3 weeks ago 27
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LEH: After years of waiting for

telecom connectivity

, residents of Merak, a forward village opposite Finger 3 area on the

south bank

of

Pangong

lake in

Ladakh

, hit upon a novel formula to make their dream come true.
In an unusual example of collaboration, the

Army

agreed to allot capacity in a 25-km optical fibre cable link to Chushul for civilian traffic, state-run telecom service provider BSNL set up the equipment, villagers provided the labour and money for a solar-storage power plant came from councillor Konchok Stanzin’s constituency development fund.
The village finally made it to the country’s telecom map on March 1 and has 24x7 service.
“The model was applied to launch telecom service in Lukung in 2017 and Kargyam. I am trying to replicate it to start service in Phobrang,” Stanzin, who represents Chushul constituency in the

Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council

, told TOI.
Lukung is the gateway to the 135-km-long Pangong lake, a little over 150 km from Leh. Phobrang is the gateway to the Gogra and Depsang, areas of ongoing standoff between Indian and Chinese troops.
Stanzin said good telecom connectivity in border villages are important strategically. “Villages are a key element of border defence. Our border villages are either not connected or the service is patchy. You can see more than one tower on the other side which have strong signal,” he said.
The service quality also remains a point of grouse for villagers. “Yes, calls can be made from Merak and other such villages. But it is 2G service. So there is no internet or access to online courses. Villagers want at least 3G service. The government needs to pay more attention to this issue,” he said.
Divisional commissioner Saugat Biswas said the government was alive to the situation and connecting all remote villages. “Satphones have been given to 80 villages with voice and data connection. V-SATS are being installed with localised internet service and 120 DSPTs have been approved. About 18-19 have already been set up and 124 tendered,” Biswas told TOI.
In addition, 24 sites have been cleared under USOF (Universal Service Obligation fund) for setting up mobile services.
But for Stanzin the capacity of the solar-storage unit at remote sites is also an issue. “We now have 5

KVA

units. The harsh winter reduces the service life of batteries. These need to be raised to 10 KVA,” Stanzin said.

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