A meeting between state power minister Pradyut Bordoloi and representatives of the Greater Guwahati Cable TV Operators’ Association over a charge imposed for using electric poles to string up cable wires remained inconclusive.
The government-owned Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) has asked the association to pay Rs.25 per electric pole every month for stringing up their cable wires through the poles. The association alleged that Bordoloi ignored the fact that the cable TV industry is providing employment to several thousands of youths in the state.
Iquebal Ahmed, general secretary of the association, said, “We are disappointed at the way the power minister reacted to our problems. He should have thought of the cable television industry and the number of people involved in the business.”
Now, the operators will continue their protest by carrying out cable television transmission blackout, besides moving the court for a solution within a few days. The association will also seek chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s intervention to solve the impasse.
“We are forced to take such steps. We do not want to disturb our customers by stopping the transmission but the authorities have left us with no other option,” Ahmed added.
Iquebal said if governments of other states can make life easier for cable TV operators, the Assam government should also follow their steps. The Meghalaya government charges Rs 6 per pole, said Ahmed.
“The cable TV industry in Assam is in a transformation stage and digitization is gaining momentum. To digitize the network, cable operators are providing set-top boxes to consumers at subsidized rates and also upgrading cable wires without any government aid. We are not in a position to pay Rs.25 per electric pole per month to the APDCL,” said Ahmed.
Sources in the APDCL said in Guwahati city alone, cable operators use 31,000 electric poles to provide connections to subscribers. They do not pay any money to the APDCL for using these poles to string up their wires. There are about 20,000 operators in the state that provide livelihood to about 40,000 people.