The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has launched a centralized right of way (RoW) portal, Sugam Sanchar (translated as accessible connectivity), which will provide single-window clearance for stakeholders to apply and track applications.
Operators and infrastructure providers have been asking for this for a long time. India suffers from complicated and inconsistent RoW policies for deploying telecom infrastructure like towers and optical fiber cables, among other things.
Telecom services providers (TSPs), infrastructure providers and Internet services providers (ISPs) all have to get approvals from several authorities and the rules vary from state to state, leading to delays.
The national portal aims to streamline this. It will allow providers to submit applications to regional governments and local bodies and track their status.
'Ease of doing business'
According to the RoW dashboard, 33 states/union territories have been on-boarded, with 53,184 applications received so far – of which 27,739 have been approved, 14,781 rejected, 8,090 pending and 2,572 sent back.
The Sugam Sanchar website claims it will bring "transparency, accountability and responsiveness to all stakeholders while processing the application" to ensure "Ease of Doing Business."
It should address a key challenge in extending the benefits of connectivity to remote and yet-to-be-connected areas, part of the government's vision for Digital India.
The portal will soon be integrated with RoW portals for central ministries and departments across government including the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and others. This should help streamline the process across different ministries and departments.
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— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading