Digital Infrastructure and services are becoming increasingly important in the nation's development and growth ambitions. For India to achieve its Digital ambitions, expansion and safety of Infrastructure are crucial. Considering the same, The Department of Telecommunications (DOT), under the Ministry of Communications, formulated the Indian Telegraph infrastructure safety rules 2022 to eliminate damage to various digital infrastructure assets, such as optical fiber cable, as a result of digging and excavation activities.
Demand for Digital Infrastructure
The Central Government has therefore envisioned fulfilling the communication needs of the citizens and enterprises through the establishment of a resilient, secure, accessible, and affordable Digital Communications Infrastructure and Services.
Issues Concerning Infrastructure
To address different issues of concern in the telecom sector, the Government, TSPs, and IPs have jointly created the required pan-Indian telecom infrastructure networks. However, numerous agencies frequently engage in excavation activities, and as a result, underground utility assets get affected, either as a result of knowledge of agencies about existing utilities or a lack of coordination with utility asset owner agencies.
These damages result in financial loss for owners of utility assets, as well as revenue losses and discomfort for the general public. In Telecom Sector alone, there are nearly 10 lakh OFC cuts per year, causing an economic loss of approx. Rs 3000 Crore per year. As a result, the Government created the Indian Telegraph (Infrastructure Safety) Rules, 2022, published in the Gazette of India on January 3, 2023, to address safety issues to the existing telecom infrastructure.
Call Before you Dig App
The Department of Telecom has also launched a new app, 'Call Before U Dig'. Through this App, currently available for Android users, the Government aims to connect the digging agencies with the underground utility asset owners. Communication between these parties is a crucial element of the digital India vision.
The Salient features of these rules and App are:
- Any person who 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, before commencement, through the common portal.
- The information shall include the name and address of the person exercising the legal, agency details, contact details, date and time of the 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 preventive measures provided by the licensee.
- In case no licensee provides details within the prescribed time, the person having the 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 the PM GatiShakti NMP platform, it will also be possible to know the presence of underlying utility assets, at the point of interest, before the start of excavation.
Advantages of Infrastructure Rules 2022
Advantages For Government
Infrastructure can be saved from unwanted cuts and wasteful costs towards restoration, thus saving thousands of crores for businesses and associated tax loss to the Government.
Advantages For Citizens
Citizens can experience improved services, as inconvenience caused by frequent breakdowns may be reduced due to better synergy between the agencies.