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Residents near prison denied access to mobile connectivity

Residents near prison denied access to mobile connectivity

  • 2015-08-10

Scores of residents who live in the vicinity of the Kalapet Central Prison are being denied access to mobile connectivity ever since jammers were fitted on the jail premises as a security measure. The Puducherry government had installed three jammers supplied by Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) in the Central Prison in 2010 to prevent the unauthorised use of mobile phones by prisoners.

Signals over-riding jammers

However, the jammers failed to work as cell phone towers in the vicinity of the Prison functioned with wider frequencies and BTS signals were found to be overriding the jammers.

According to a senior Prison Department official, the three jammers had become defunct as they could not block calls made by prisoners. The department apprised the cellular service providers in the region about the situation and asked them to lower the frequency and transmission signals of the towers in the vicinity.

However, the service providers failed to initiate any steps following which the government sealed the towers. Subsequently the operators approached the Madras High Court and agreed to provide a jammer inside the premises and maintain it.

He said the Cellular Operators Association of India had installed a single tower fixed with a jammer and devices of all cellular operators in the Prison last year. The jammer will block all calls made within a radius of 1.5 km from the Prison.

Tower maintenance

The tower fixed by Novel Solutions is maintained by the cellular operators who make necessary adjustments once a week. The department had not received any complaints on poor connectivity from residents living near the prison so far, he said.

Affected

A. Kumar, coordinator of Periya Kalapet Tsunami Quarters Residents Welfare Association told The Hindu, “The authorities should make sure that the 250 inmates in the prison do not use mobile phones. They should make the jammers more effective instead of causing hardships to the people living in the vicinity. More than 2,000 families in the Tsunami quarters and those living in the vicinity of the Prison now bear the brunt of not being able to make or receive calls.”

“The jammer story is a classic instance of the convoluted approach of government to what should have been a simple task,” says Vijay Shankar, of Auroville’s Atmasanga, who has petitioned some of the highest authorities in the land, including past and present Prime Ministers, to get the issue sorted out.

He pointed out that at present no operator signal other than BSNL’s CellOne services is available in the Kalapet area that adjoins the Pondicherry University, PIMS, the Ambedkar Government Law College and the tsunami quarters.

“Many of us have switched to a BSNL connection but that is hardly a solution because of weak signals and call drops,” he said.

He wondered why it should be difficult to restrict the functionality of the jammer to a well-defined radius within the prison.

“The jail authorities should be able to prevent smuggling of mobile phones into the prison. How can the life of law abiding citizens be disturbed in the name of prison security,” he wanted to know.(from the hindu)

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