State-run telecom operator BSNL says it plans to install mobile towers in naxal-affected areas by the end of this year, for which the company has selected a vendor and identified 450 locations.
"BSNL has opened the tender and selected the vendor. The market price for the project has been obtained, which is communicated to the Department of Telecom (DoT). Further decision is to be taken after the approval of the Telecom Commission," an official of state-owned BSNL told PTI.
The official said the timeline could be achieved if the Telecom Commission gives its approval in January.
"As soon as the approval is there, we are prepared to carry out work in one year's time," he added.
The official said BSNL has already installed 363 towers and identified another 450 sites for setting up towers.
( Also see : BSNL to open bids for solar-powered 2G mobile towers in Naxal areas: Report )
BSNL was mandated to set up the towers, the cost of which will be borne by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), which is administered by DoT.
The USOF was created under the National Telecom Policy of 1999 to help provide telecom services at affordable prices to people in rural areas where no phone facilities are available.
BSNL floated a tender in August for the supply, installation, testing, operation and maintenance of 2G GSM network towers at 1,315 sites for five years in left-wing extremist areas of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal.
The Cabinet cleared the three-year old proposal to set up mobile towers at a cost of about Rs. 3,046 crores in naxal-affected states in June, following an attack that killed 27 people, including senior Congress leaders, in Chhattisgarh in May.