PITHORAGARH: In areas having poor phone connectivity along the China and Nepal border adjoining Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, the
has decided to provide satellite phones to around 49
pradhans in the area.
These phones have been given by the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) to the district administration for the use of villagers, many of whom had to depend on Nepalese SIM cards for communication.
Vijay Kumar Jogdande, district magistrate of Pithoragarh, told TOI that of the 49 villages, 34 are from Dharchula
while the rest are from Munsyari. “On Friday, we gave 19 satellite phones to the gram pradhans of Byas and
of Dharchula. The rest will also be distributed shortly. On Sunday, 15 village heads in
will be provided the satellite phones,” the DM said. He added that call charges would be Rs 12 per minute and one SMS would also cost the same amount. International calls and SMS rates will be Rs 260 per minute and Rs 260 per SMS respectively, the DM further said.
The villages where the satellite phones are being provided are located in the Byas, Chaudas and Darma valley of Dharchula and Malla Johar valley of Munsyari. These areas have very poor phone connectivity as no telecom company, including state-owned BSNL, has set up mobile towers due to the tough terrain.
Salu Datal, a resident of Datu village, told TOI that villagers were looking forward to using the satellite phones to solve their communication difficulties.
“Many persons in Dharchula have been using Nepalese SIM cards but it is very costly and we would prefer to use our own country’s communication network,” he said. However, the high satellite phone call rates is a cause of concern for many. On Friday, 14 gram pradhans of Byas, Darma and Chaudas areas sent a memorandum to chief minister Trivendra Rawat to consider reducing the call rates.
“Not only is the cost of outgoing call Rs 12, even the cost of incoming call has been kept at Rs 12 per minute, which is very high for poor villagers. We have urged the CM to keep the cost at Rs 2 for outgoing while incoming should be free,” said Hayat Singh, a gram pradhan.