Industry association of mobile service providers Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents Airtel, Jio and VI (Vodafone Idea), has condemned sabotaging of network connectivity and telecom towers, primarily belonging to Reliance Jio, in Punjab.
The association emphasised that the telecom sector is an essential service provider and disrupting it would impact students, professionals and health workers who need to log in online. The disruption of telecom services is causing immense inconvenience to the common man for whom the mobile services are essential, the organisation added.
“While we respect people’s right to protest on any issue, sabotaging the telecom network infrastructure and disrupting telecom services as a form of protest by anyone is strongly condemned. Telecom services are the lifeline of lakhs of customers, including students taking online classes, professionals working from home, people going in for online health consultations in the tough time of Covid-19,” SP Kochhar, director general of COAI, said in a statement.
Kochhar further highlighted that telecom workers have worked “tirelessly” to provide seamless and uninterrupted connectivity across the country by ordering doorstep delivery, infrastructure augmentation and 24×7 network support.
The state government has confirmed that 1561 Reliance Jio mobile towers have been affected over the last few days. About 146 of such towers have been affected since Monday morning due to disruption of power supply to 32 towers. About 25 of these towers have been vandalised.
Even Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh earlier directed the state police to take action against anyone destroying telecom towers. Reliance Jio’s executives are yet to meet senior state government officials in Punjab as protesting farmers damaged more than 1,300-1,450 Jio-owned or operated telecom towers over the past few days.
Farmers are said to have cut power supply to Reliance Jio’s mobile towers in Punjab, over the controversial farm reforms bill, which is set to change the agriculture economy. Mobile towers in several parts of the state, including Nawanshahr, Ferozepur, Mansa, Barnala, Fazilka, Patiala and Moga districts are said to have been impacted as well. The state is said to have a total of 9,000 Reliance Jio telecom towers.