A problem with the Department of Telecoms automated online clearance system could delay the installation of 50,000 new telecoms towers by several months, according to reports in the press.
The Economic Times of India reported on Monday that the glitch had led to a backlog of 100,000 online clearance applications, which were now having to be processed manually.
The problem is being compounded by the fact that hundreds of millions of people in India are currently under strict lock down, as the government attempts to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic on the sub-continent. As a result, the DoT lacks the requisite manpower to handle the sharp increase in demand for manual processing.
The delay comes at a crucial time for India’s mobile network operators who are battling to increase the capacity of their 4G networks to accommodate the huge surge in demand brought about by the country’s work and study from home initiatives.“The sudden move (in the SACFA approval process) from online to manual mode due to unforeseen events on the WPC website has led to a backlog in approvals for applications submitted, and the manual process has become more difficult due to the Covid-19 outbreak,” Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), told journalists from The Economic Times of India.