Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Amendment) Rules, 2021

The Central Government has informed the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Amendment) Rules, 2021, on 21 October 2021. The Amendment aims to incorporate the provisions related to nominal one-time compensation and uniform procedure for establishing Overground Telegraph Line in the Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016.

Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016

The Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules 2016 is associated with any licensee’s establishment and maintenance of underground or overground telegraph structures. The local authority will appoint a nodal officer to manage and supervise the activities under this rule.

The licensee is selected through the application process. The application contains a copy of the license granted by the Central Government; the details of underground and overground telegraph infrastructure proposed to be constructed. It also includes the mode and the time duration for the execution of the work, the details of the expenses, measures to mitigate the inconveniences caused to the public, and measures for public safety.

The licensee ensures that before establishing and maintaining overground telegraph infrastructure, the steps to mitigate public inconvenience and ensure public safety, which includes structural security of such overground telegraph infrastructure, are implemented. The work is carried out by the conditions specified in the grant of permission by the appropriate authority.

The appropriate authority supervises the establishment and maintenance of overground telegraph infrastructure to ascertain if the licensee observes the conditions imposed in the grant of permission. Based on such supervision, the relevant authority may impose such other reasonable conditions, as it may think fit. If the appropriate authority concludes that the licensee has willfully violated any conditions for grant of permission, withdraw the permission granted to the licensee.

The authority can also remove the telegraph infrastructures during appropriate circumstances. After examining the detailed plan submitted by the licensee under sub-rule, the relevant authority shall pass suitable orders. The appropriate authority considers emergent circumstances which require the removal or alteration of telegraph infrastructure and give not less than ninety days to the licensee for removal or alteration of such telegraph infrastructure. The licensee shall bear the future responsibility and liability, including the cost for removal or alteration of telegraph infrastructures.

The disputes between the licensee and appropriate authority are referred to the officer designated by the Central Government. The Central Government should appoint, by notification, officers with such jurisdiction as mentioned in the statement within sixty days from the date of coming into force of these rules. The officer designated by the Central Government shall determine the disputes within a period not exceeding sixty days in such manner as the Central Government may have specified from time to time.

Key Highlights of the Amendment

The Amendment Rules smoothen the documentation process for Right of Way (RoW) application for an overground telegraph line. The last row rules covered only underground Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) and mobile towers. The Amendment rules point out that there will only be the administrative fee and restoration charges to establish, maintain, repair, transfer, work or shift, the overground and underground telegraph structures.

The government has fixed Rs 1,000 per km as the one-time compensation for establishing an overground telegraph line.

Significance of the Amendment

The rules state that these amendments will aid in easing RoW related permission procedures for establishing and expanding digital communications infrastructure across the country. The Right of Way (RoW) in the telecommunications sector is the legal framework for laying optical fibre cables (OFC), setting up telecom towers, improving coordination among companies, and settling disputes.

With a pan-India digital infrastructure, the digital divide between rural-urban and rich-poor in the country will be bridged, stated the Communications Ministry.

The notification of Amendment rules stated that the Amendment could strengthen financial inclusion and e-Governance. It can also fulfill citizens’ information and communication needs and the ease of doing business. The notification added that the changes would realise the dream of India’s transition into a digitally empowered economy and society.

The Indian Telegraph Right of Way (Amendment) Rules clarify that laying overhead Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) will also be available, which will go a long way in establishing necessary infrastructure for the rollout of 5G projects in India. As part of the Gati Shakti National Master P, the Amendment Rules specify that essential infrastructure is built at the lowest planning costs.