Bhubaneswar: Amid much curiosity among people to avail 5G services in Odisha following introduction of the much-awaited telecom technology in here today, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Amar Patnaik described the launching of 5G services a ‘publicity stunt’ stating that the state needs better connectivity.
Addressing a presser in Bhubaneswar he said that the 5G services will not address the core issues of deficit in telecom density and internet services in Odisha.
“We have been facing serious issues of deficit in tele-density and internet density and services in the state, particularly in the rural areas. While we will co-operate with the Centre on the launch of the 5G services for its successful implementation, the problem is that it is not going to address the core issues of these deficits, particularly in the rural areas and hence, denial of benefits in rural areas due to its adoption and launch,” Patnaik said.
As per the latest report of TRAI (As on 31.07.2022), the overall tele-density of Odisha is 75.23% which is within the bottom five of all Indian States. Even North-east states have higher tele-density at 77.98% and J & K at 88.18%. The national average is 85.11%.
“So you can imagine that when there isn’t even access to telephone services, talking of 4G or 5G service being introduced in the State is only tall talk. It will further exacerbate the digital inequity between the states,” the BJD leader said.
He said that the rural tele-density in Odisha is only 62.73%. Therefore, the benefits will come only to urban areas and not to rural areas. Similarly, internet subscription for 100 people in the rural areas of Odisha stands at 34.51%; it is 88.98 % in case of urban areas. Out of 310 Gram Panchayats in Kalahandi district alone, 81 Gram Panchayats don’t have internet connectivity.
The KBK reason is a cluster of eight tribal district in Odisha, of which seven districts are a part of Aspirational districts of Niti Aayog. However, most of these areas suffer even lower tele-density despite having historical backwardness.
Highlighting the deficit in tele-density in Odisha, he said that 11,000 out of 51,311 villages do not have mobile connectivity. While 10,000 villages come under LWE affected areas, 6278 villages in Odisha are still deprived of getting mobile access or connectivity till today.
Moreover, there are reports that people in remote areas where internet services exist, climb trees or mountains to connect telecom network.
The Rajya Sabha member said that 2500 mobile based towers will be required to provide coverage to uncovered villages in the state. But only 488 have been sanctioned as of now which means 2000 more mobile based towers will be required.
“This is affecting banking services, education and health services to the people living in these areas. Instead of concentrating on improving this picture, the introduction of new 5G services is not going to ameliorate this condition of denial of improved services and benefits to the rural people of Odisha, most of whom are tribal,” he said.
He questioned on quality of 5G services introduced in other cities including New Delhi.
“I don’t get it even around the Parliament. While we welcome the introduction of 5G services, the Government of India would do well to concentrate more on improving tele-density and internet connectivity (both in numbers and quality) in the rural areas of Odisha, particularly in the 10 districts where most of the people are tribal so that benefits of 5G technology are available to these who deserve it the most,” Patnaik said.
“Odisha deserves better connectivity. The rural people of Odisha deserve better connectivity. The tribal people of Odisha deserve better connectivity,” he said.