MHA alarm on Nepal’s SIMs

Local residents and even security personnel are using Nepalese SIM cards in border areas as no State-owned or private telecom company from India is providing services there, prompting the Home Ministry to raise an alarm today.
Use of Nepal telecom services in upper reaches of Dharchula tehsil in Pithoragarh district along with those living at Gwaldam area in Chamoli district are very common in absence of services of any Indian private telecom company.
Residents of Gunji and Nabbhi villages of Dharchula tehsil along with those living in Gwaldom area have been using Nepalese SIM cards for the past several years not only to communicate but also to access the Internet.
They have to shell out more money for using these facilities. They say they are left with no other option but to pay the rate of ISD calling.
Not just local residents, even security personnel are forced to use Nepalese SIM cards for communication.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said that during his two-day visit to Indo-Nepal and Sino-Indian borders in Uttarakhand, he discovered that around 20,000 people living in upper reaches of Dharchula comprising areas like Kalanapani, Kuti, Navidang and Budhi were using Nepal telecom services.
“To my utter surprise, I have discovered that security forces deployed in the forward areas also use mobile telephone services of Nepal as no Indian telecom networks function there. This is a serious issue which may compromise our security,” he told reporters in Delhi.
Rijiju said he will urgently approach Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for the needful to expand Indian telecom services in these sensitive areas.
“The use of Nepal telecom services is happening due to non-availability of Indian telecom network. We must start work immediately for improving the telecom services in all border areas where our people and forces use foreign network services,” he said.
The Minister has already asked top Home Ministry officials to find out how Indian security forces are being allowed to use network of Nepal telecom violating rules and guidelines.
Rijiju had visited forward areas of Indo-Nepal and Sino- Indian borders on Sunday and Monday and reviewed security situation there.
A paramilitary jawan deployed in these forward areas said on the condition of anonymity that they were told that BSNL has mobile tower in Gwaldom area but BSNL SIMs do not get signals. However, Nepali SIM cards are easily available and provide promising connectivity.
“Besides calling facility, one can use Nepali SIM cards for surfing Internet which has become a basic requirement,” he said. (PTI)