Legal support for right of way until December: Telecoms Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw


Minister Vaishnaw launched the GatiShakti Sanchar portal, which will centralize and expedite permits for fiber and mast installation as the country prepares for the rollout of 5G

Minister Vaishnaw launched the GatiShakti Sanchar portal, which will centralize and expedite permits for fiber and mast installation as the country prepares for the rollout of 5G

Telecoms Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on May 14 said legal support for Rights of Way (RoW) will be in place by December and launched the GatiShakti Sanchar portal, which will centralize and expedite permits for the laying of fiber and mast installations as it evolves the country prepared for 5G rollout.

The GatiShakti Sanchar portal will facilitate centralized right-of-way (RoW) authorizations. As an online platform for industry to apply for RoW approvals when building telecom infrastructure, including for 5G services, the GatiShakti Sanchar portal offers a unified, integrated, centralized approach covering all states and UTs and central government departments.

For players, it promises to cut down on the days required to obtain mandatory permits, cut costs and make doing business easier.

At the launch of the portal, Mr. Vaishnaw stressed the need for right-of-way legislation and promised that strong legal support would be in place by December this year. Currently, the RoW rules are based on administrative procedures and strong legal backing is needed to empower local officials to provide clarity on the fee structure and establish accountability, he explained.

“That will be our next step. In addition, all the portals that exist, especially the Gati Shakti portal, the railway portal, the highway portal and others … their integration … We will work on these two technological and legal aspects ,” said Mr. Vaishnaw.

Work on these two fronts has already started and integration of portals is expected in the next 3-4 months, while deadlines for providing legal support are until the end of December. Asked whether RoW legislation also entails penalties for failing to meet approval deadlines, the minister said, “In general, accountability and punishment tend to be linked…otherwise it is an assumed approval,” he said .

The new GatiShakti Sanchar portal is designed to greatly simplify the process of RoW approvals for player infrastructure construction and provide a centralized and unified approach to approvals.

In addition, the integration of the portal with GIS will give the state government and various authorities more insight into the fiber optic network and the existing digital networks. The RoW approval time has already dropped from 100 days to 22 days, Mr. Vaishnaw said, praising state governments for their proactive role in streamlining processes.

Once the work on the technological and legal aspects is completed, the 22-day cycle could be further shortened to even one week in the future.

“The portal will serve as a precursor to the goal of ‘ease of doing business’ for telecom infrastructure,” said the minister. “The timely disposal of RoW applications from various service and infrastructure providers will enable rapid network construction and accelerate the timely rollout of 5G,” the minister said.

The portal will allow applicants – telecom operators and infrastructure providers – to apply for right-of-way permits (for laying fiber optic cables and installing cell towers) to state governments and local authorities in one location.

To effectively monitor RoW applications across the country, the portal is equipped with a dashboard showing the state and county status of applications. By simplifying the RoW approval process, the portal will expedite the laying of fiber optic cables, accelerate fiber formation and increase tower density for connectivity, ensuring better overall broadband speeds and quality of service. The portal was developed by MP State Electronics Development Corporation.

Industry association COAI praised the initiative, saying that telecom service providers and infrastructure providers will use this portal to submit their applications and authorities will be able to process and issue permits for the deployment of digital network infrastructure in a timely manner.

The vision for this portal is to provide a collaborative institutional mechanism between all stakeholders, including central and state governments, central land tenure authorities (railways, defense, ports and others), local corporations and service providers, to process the RoW applications and permits for the To facilitate deployment of the country’s digital infrastructure.

SP Kochhar, Director General of the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), described the new portal as a “milestone” that will enable the vision for “Digital India”.

Currently, the application process for the installation of a digital infrastructure is delayed due to inconsistencies and uncertainties related to the policies and processes adopted at different levels. Therefore, an accelerated application process is needed to address the challenges of implementing the 2016 right-of-way rules.

Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA) Director General TR Dua said: “The launch of this portal is a game changer and another milestone for the telecom industry, with faster adoption of digital infrastructure across the country and reduction of previous delays.”

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