Another unique concept relevant to the Telecom Bill is the “Right of Way”. This is a right under which a telecom infrastructure provider will be facilitated the use of public property upon application. Rejection can be only on very substantial grounds.
The “Right of Way” may also be used against “Private Property” under Section 14 which could have an impact on public through forced acquisition of private property.
Under this section, Any facility provider may submit an application to the person owning the property to seek right of way for telecommunication infrastructure under, over,
along, across, in or upon such property.
On receipt of an application from a facility provider, such person may enter into an agreement, specifying such consideration as mutually agreed.
In the event the person does not provide the right of way requested, and the Central Government determines that it is necessary to do so in the public interest, it may, either by itself or through any other authority designated by the Central Government for this purpose, proceed to acquire the right of way for enabling the facility provider to establish, operate, maintain such telecommunication infrastructure, in the manner as may be prescribed. may enter into an agreement, specifying such consideration as mutually agreed.
It is very important to ensure that this provision is not misused and hence there should be an effective system for grievance redressal which does not appear to be available at present in the Act. Though Section 18 does recognize the need for dispute resolution, there is no clarity if individuals whose property is sought to be tress passed by the telecom companies would get access to proper compensation .
The act is heavily skewed towards the industry and may require some more balancing in favour of the public.
The preliminary observations on the Bill is closed here. Further comments may be developed as required subsequently