Telecoms Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Saturday unveiled the GatiShakti Sanchar portal, which will centralize and expedite permits for the laying of fiber and mast installations and drive forthcoming 5G rollout, and said legal support for Right of Way (RoW) in will be force December.
The GatiShakti Sanchar portal will facilitate centralized right-of-way (RoW) authorizations. As an online platform for industry to apply for RoW permits when building telecom infrastructure, including for 5G services, the GatiShakti Sanchar portal offers a unified, integrated, centralized approach covering all states and UTs as well as central government departments.
For players, it promises to cut down on the days required to obtain mandatory permits, cut costs and simplify doing business.
Unveiling the portal, Mr. Vaishnaw stressed the need for right-of-way legislation and promised strong legal support would be put in place by December this year.
Put simply, the RoW rules on telecom tower construction and cable laying provide a framework for issuing permits, resolving disputes and facilitating coordination between industry and various authorities.
Currently, the RoW rules are based on administrative procedures and strong legal support is needed to empower local officials to provide clarity on the fee structure and establish accountability, Mr Vaishnaw 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 the legal provisions for RoW also entail penalties if the permit deadlines are not met, the minister said that in general liability and penalties are closely linked. “Otherwise it is assumed consent,” he said.
The new GatiShakti Sanchar portal is expected to greatly simplify the process of RoW approvals for infrastructure construction by players as it offers a centralized and unified approach to approvals.
In addition, the integration of the portal with GIS will give state governments 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 act as a enabler for the goal of ‘ease of doing business’ for telecom infrastructure, the minister said. 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.