INDIAN TELEGRAPHS (INFRASTRUCTURE SAFETY) RULES, 2022
INDIAN TELEGRAPHS (INFRASTRUCTURE SAFETY) RULES, 2022
The term ‘telegraph’ is defined under section 3(1AA) of Indian Telegraphs Act, 1885 (‘Act’ for short) as any appliance, instrument, material or apparatus used or capable of use for transmission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, visual or other electro-magnetic emissions, Radio waves or Hertzian waves, galvanic, electric or magnetic means. The explanation to this section defines the expression ‘radio waves or Hertzian waves’ as electro-magnetic waves of frequencies lower than 3,000 giga-cycles per second propagated in space without artificial guide.
As per Section 4(1) of the Act the Central Government shall have the exclusive privilege of establishing, maintaining and working telegraphs. The proviso to this section provides that the Central Government may grant a license, on such conditions and in consideration of such payments as it thinks fit, to any person to establish, maintain or work a telegraph within any part of India.
Section 7(1) of the Act provides that the Central Government may, from time to time, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules consistent with this Act for the conduct of all or any telegraphs established, maintained or worked by the Government or by persons licensed under this Act.
Powers of Central Government
The following are the powers given by the Act to the Central Government-
Removal of telegraph lines
Section 17 of the Act provides the procedure for removal or alteration of telegraph line or post on property other than that of a local authority.
When, under the foregoing provisions of this Act, a telegraph line or post has been placed by the telegraph authority under, over, along, across, in or upon any property, not being property vested in or under the control or management of a local authority, and any person entitled to do so desires to deal with that property in such a manner as to render it necessary or convenient that the telegraph line or post should be removed to another part thereof or to a higher or lower level or altered in form, he may require the telegraph authority to remove or alter the line or post accordingly. If the telegraph authority omits to comply with the requisition, the person making it may apply to the District Magistrate within whose jurisdiction the property is situate to order the removal or alteration.
Liberalization of telecom sector
After the introduction of liberalization and globalization the telecom industry has been kept open to the private operators. The private operators can get licence from the telegraph authority and operate the telecom services either pan India basis or in certain region. Even the Government converted its Department into public sector companies such as BSNL, MTNL etc. The Telecom industry was declared as infrastructure industry. The foreign investments came in a lot in India for the development of this industry. The subscriber has been increased and India is the second largest telecom service provider. As on 31.10.2022 the total number of mobile subscribers is 114.36 crores and the total number of landline subscribers is 2.7 crores. The use of mobile phones penetrates deeply in rural areas. The use of mobile phone in urban area is 54.67% and in rural area it is 45.33%.
Notice to telegraph authority
Section 19(A) (1) of the Act provides that any person desiring to deal in the legal exercise of a right with any property in such a manner as is likely to cause damage to a telegraph line or post which has been duly placed in accordance with the provisions of this Act, or to interrupt or interfere with telegraphic communication, shall give not less than one month's notice in writing of the intended exercise of such right to the telegraph authority, or to any telegraph officer whom the telegraph authority may empower in this behalf.
If any such person without having complied with the provisions of sub-section (1) deals with any property in such a manner as is likely to cause damage to any telegraph line or post, or to interrupt or interfere with telegraphic communication, a Magistrate of the first or second class may, on the application of the telegraph authority, order such person to abstain from dealing with such property in such manner for a period not exceeding one month from the date of his order and forthwith to take such action with regard to such property as may be in the opinion of the Magistrate necessary to remedy or prevent such damage, interruption or interference during such period.
The Central Government made ‘The Indian Telegraph (Infrastructure Safety) Rules, 2022 vide Notification No. GSR 06(E), dated 03.01.2023. The provisions of this rule came into effect from 03.01.2023.
Rule 3 provides that any person desiring to dig or excavate in the legal exercise of a right with any property in such a manner as is likely to cause damage to a telegraph infrastructure or to interrupt or interfere with telegraphic communication which has been duly placed in accordance with the provisions of the Act, shall give notice to licensee through common portal, a portal or mobile phone application developed and notified by the Central Government for the purposes of these rules, by submitting the information of such digging or excavation, prior to the commencement of such exercise.
The notice shall include the name and address of the person exercising the legal right, agency details, contact details, date and time of start of the exercise, description and location of the exercise, and the reasons for such digging or excavation.
On receipt of the notice through the common portal the licencee shall give to the applicant, at the earliest, the details of telegraph infrastructure owned or control or managed by such licensee, falling under or over or along the property with which the person intends to deal in legal exercise of the right, along with precautionary measures for coordination in avoiding damages to the telegraph infrastructure. The person exercising legal right to dig or excavate shall take appropriate action on precautionary measures provided by the licensee.
In case no licensee provides details within the prescribed time as per section 19(A) of the Act, the person having legal right to dig or excavate shall be free to dig or excavate the property thereafter.
Any person, who in exercise of legal right has dug or has excavated any property in such a manner causing damage to a telegraph infrastructure duly placed in accordance with the provisions of the Act, 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.
By: Mr. M. GOVINDARAJAN - January 13, 2023