Fuel scarcity 'Disconnects Manipur'
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 07 2010: As in many other activities, mobile phone service has also been affected adversely due to scarcity of diesel.

One official of the Gurgaon based Bharti Infratel which is looking after power management of mobile service providers like Airtel and others said that mobile towers are being run with diesel bought from black markets at exorbitant rates just to keep the mobile phone service running in the State.

Speaking to The Sangai Express about the effects of fuel scarcity on mobile phone service in Manipur, the Bharti Infratel official said that network coverage of mobile service has been affected due to inadequacy of diesel for running mobile tower generators.

A petrol pump deserted with no fuel

Usually, mobile tower generators in Manipur are run with diesel most of the time as there was acute shortage of electricity.

At the average, each mobile tower generator consumes about 4000 litres of diesel daily.

However, with the blockade continuing for more than 50 days, there were times when almost 80 mobile towers of Airtel remained non-functional for the whole day due to unavailability of diesel.

Following arrival of some diesel tankers along with security escorts and buying diesel from black markets, Bharati Infratel has been running the mobile towers in the interest of the public.

Subsequently, the number of non-functional mobile towers has been significantly reduced.

Information culled from different sources revealed that there are around 240 mobile towers of Airtel alone in Manipur.

Out of these, around 50 mobile towers have become defunct due to scarcity of diesel thereby affecting mobile telecommunication service in some areas.

Same is the case with Aircel too.

Out of 400 mobile towers installed so far for Aircel, there were times when almost 100 towers did not function in a single day due to scarcity of diesel caused by the prolonged blockade.

This situation has improved a little bit over the last couple of weeks, informed the official.

Mobile telecommunication service provided by BSNL which is an undertaking of the Government of India has been reduced by 50 per cent in both rural and urban areas following the blockade.

Commenting on this scenario, different sections of people including those staying outside the State expressed utter dismay at the unreliability of mobile service for telecommunication.

Pointing out that mobile service has become a part of normal life in the modern world, many people opined that mobile phone service sector should be treated as an essential service sector.

Businessmen, both big or small, are the ones who have been worst hit by the fall in quality of mobile phone service, claimed some traders.