The Department of Telecommunications under the Ministry of Communications has formulated the Indian Telegraph (Infrastructure Safety) Rules 2022. Digital Infrastructure and Services are increasingly emerging as key enablers and critical determinants of a country’s growth and well-being. The Central government has therefore envisioned fulfilling the communication needs of the citizens and enterprises through establishment of a resilient, secure, accessible and affordable Digital Communications Infrastructure and Services.
Government/ TSPs/ IPs together have established the much-required pan India telecom infrastructure networks for various telecom sector issues of concern. Various agencies often undertake excavation activities wherein underground utility assets get damaged wither due to lack of knowledge of agencies about existing utilities or lack of coordination with utility asset owner agencies.
These damages cause economic loss to utility asset owners as well as business loss and inconvenience to the public. In Telecom Sector alone, there are nearly 10 lakh OFC cuts per year causing an economic loss of approx. Rs 3000 Crore/year.
Accordingly, the need for rules/ regulation/ policy to address the issues of safety to the existing telecom infrastructure has arisen for which the Government has formulated the Indian Telegraph (Infrastructure Safety) Rules, 2022 published in the Gazette of India on 3rd January, 2023.
The Salient features of these rules and App are:
- Any person wishes to exercise a legal right to dig or excavate any property which is likely to cause damage to a telegraph infrastructure shall give notice to the licensee, prior to commencement, through common portal.
- The information shall include the name and address of the person exercising the legal, agency details, contact details, date and time of start of the exercise, description and location of the exercise, and the reasons for such dealing.
- The licensee shall, as expeditiously as possible, provide through the common portal, the details of telegraph infrastructure owned/ controlled/ managed by them, falling under/ over/ along the property with which the person intends to deal, alongwith precautionary measures for coordination in avoiding damages to the telegraph infrastructure.
- Excavators/utility asset owners will be given alerts via SMS, email and in-app notification and will also have the facility of ‘Click to call’ from the app itself.
- The person digging or excavating shall take appropriate action on precautionary measures provided by the licensee.
- In case no licensee provides details within the prescribed time, the person having legal right to dig or excavate shall be free to dig or excavate the property thereafter.
- Further, any person, who has dug/excavated any property causing damage to a telegraph infrastructure, shall be liable to pay the damage charges to the telegraph authority.The damage charges shall be computed based on such expenses as may be incurred in restoring damages.
- Once the asset owner agencies map their underlying assets with GIS coordinates on PM GatiShakti NMP platform, it will also be possible to know the presence of underlying utility assets, at the point of interest, before start of excavation.
Advantages (For Government – Central & State/UTs):
Many utilities can be saved from unwanted cuts and wasteful cost towards restoration, thus saving thousands of crores for businesses and associated tax loss to Govt.
Advantages (For Citizens):
Inconvenience caused to citizens because of frequent breakdown may be reduced due to better synergy between the agencies.