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DoT pushes green policy for telecom sector

According to reports, aiming to adopt green policy in the telecom sector, the Department of Telecom (DoT) set a 2019 deadline for service providers to reduce carbon emission from mobile networks by 17 per cent.

The roadmap to encourage green energy in the telecom sector, prepared by the DoT, says at present 80-90 per cent of power requirements for rural towers are met by diesel generator sets, each of which consumes 8,760 litres of diesel a year if it runs eight hours a day. It is estimated that 5.12 billion litres of diesel is consumed by telecom towers annually, and total emission due to this is around 10 million tonne of carbon dioxide.

Of the total 7.42 lakh mobile telecom towers in the country, around 3.5 lakh in rural areas run mostly on diesel generators. The DoT wants these towers converted to green energy sources like solar, biomass or wind.

To be precise, the green telecom policy requires mobile operators to migrate 75 per cent of all cell towers in rural areas and 33 per cent in urban areas to hybrid power by 2020.

However, many telecom companies have expressed their inability to adopt green energy technology due to huge expenses, and have been demanding viability gap funding (VGF) as a pre-condition to invest in green energy technologies.

In attempt to push telecom companies to invest more in green energy technology, now DoT plans to provide easy bank financing, by way of softer interest rates and longer loan tenures, since telecom towers enjoy infrastructure status. Telecom tower companies will also be eligible for higher overseas borrowing limits, lower import duties and excise exemptions on telecom infrastructure equipment, said a DoT note.

Apart from reducing carbon emission, the government also wants to reduce the consumption of diesel by telecom towers, which is companies purchase mostly from the open market, sources in the DoT told Deccan Herald.

The DoT last year engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Indian unit to examine the techno-commercial feasibility of powering some 3.5 lakh mobile towers with alternative energy sources. Once the DoT receives the report, it is likely to announce sops for telecom firms to reach the government target in adopting green energy standards.

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