August brought 2G mobile phone network for Vijaynagar, one of the remotest administrative circles in Arunachal Pradesh.
A person needs to walk for six-seven days through tiger territory to reach the location.
But the euphoria for some 4,500 people of the habitation in Changlang district close to the Myanmar border was short-lived. The solar-powered batteries that ran the sole tower with a coverage radius of 5 km crashed within 48 hours.
Vijaynagar is now awaiting a set of heavy batteries only the Indian Air Force (IAF) can deliver in choppers from eastern Assam’s Jorhat town. This, officials said, would depend on the unpredictable weather that “played villain” during the installation operation spanning more than 45 days.
“The network died because of poor battery back-up soon after it reached Vijaynagar on August 1. The IAF needs at least four sorties to bring better, larger batteries that Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will be providing from Jorhat in Assam,” said T. Rumi, Additional Deputy Commissioner, based at nearest town Miao.
Vijaynagar is 157.56 km from Miao and one needs to trek through the 1,895 sq. km. Namdapha Tiger Reserve to reach the place.
“The government is trying to make a road between Miao and Vijaynagar, which still awaits electricity and depends on solar energy,” Mr. Rumi told The Hindu.
The “temporary setback” notwithstanding, district officials acknowledged the 2G mobile connectivity for Vijaynagar as “historic”. Changlang’s Deputy Commissioner Devansh Yadav said the place did not have telecom connectivity earlier.
“We did provide satellite telephone service at Vijaynagar. But there were only five users, including two civilians and the (paramilitary) Assam Rifles unit there. Even the satellite phones stopped working a year ago,” a sub-divisional engineer of BSNL said, seeking anonymity.
Inhabited sparsely by the Lishu community, Vijaynagar was “discovered” by the Assam Rifles during an expedition in 1961 led by its Inspector-General A.S. Guraya. He named the valley after his son Vijay.