Odisha villagers set to get mobile signal for first time

Malkangiri district, one of the most violence-hit areas in the State, is witnessing development activities

Thousands of villagers in Odishaโ€™s Malkangiri district are set to enjoy uninterrupted cellular service for the first time in their lives.

Due to threats from left wing extremists, mobile towers could not be installed until now in Swabhiman Anchal (formerly known as Cut-off area). Located along the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border, Swabhiman Anchal comprises 151 villages.

The area, surrounded by water on three sides and by inhospitable terrain on another, became less remote after the construction of Gurupriya Bridge, which connected the zone with the rest of the State in 2018.

โ€œIt is a landmark day as mobile network connectivity is being started in Swabhiman Area at the villages of Pipalapadar, Hantalguda, Jantapal, which did not have mobile connectivity before,โ€ Malkangiri District Collector Manish Agarwal said on Monday.

He said a total of seven towers at Pipalapadar, Hantalguda, Jantapai, Tunnel Camp, Dyke-III, Darlabeda and Chitrakonda were planned by Bharati Infratel Limited. Trial runs for four mobile towers were successful.

โ€œNow people of these villages will get voice connectivity and 4G network which will enable them to get connected with the rest of the world,โ€ Mr. Agarwal said, adding that it will help development in Swabhiman Anchal.

Odisha accounts for the highest number of villages that do not have mobile phone services in India.

Over the recent years, since the deployment of the Border Security Force in 2010, the region has been witnessing a turnaround with intensified counter Maoist operations by BSF and State Police.

Malkangiri has been one of the most violence-hit districts in the country with as many as 332 Maoist incidents recorded in 12 years between 2008 and 2020.

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