Villagers in border areas in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district have to ask acquaintances in Nepal to get them SIM cards.

Villagers near Indo-Nepal border in Uttarakhand use Nepalese SIM cards to beat network blues

A simmering boundary dispute between India and Nepal hasn’t stopped villagers in bordering areas in Uttarakhand from counting on Nepalese SIM playing cards as a consequence of poor connectivity of the Indian telecom service suppliers.

The villagers primarily of Khumti gram panchayat in Pithoragarh district which contains about 10-12 villages, should depend upon the Nepalese telecom service suppliers.

They stated they’re compelled to make use of Nepalese SIM playing cards because the community of the Indian telecom service suppliers may be very poor compared to that of the Nepalese.

Param Singh, a villager of Khumti village which is situated about 15 km away from the Nepal border stated, “We are compelled to use the Nepalese SIM cards because we have no other option. Their network in this hilly terrain is very strong as compared to the Indian ones who have very poor or often no network.”

Singh added, “The villagers who have someone known in Nepal, ask them to arrange a Nepalese SIM card for them on their documents and then receive it here when they come to visit them. It is the only way of communication for any work or emergency.”

He stated nearly everybody within the village has one Nepalese SIM and one Indian SIM card of their telephones. “When in the village, we use the Nepalese SIM and when in the market down with a better network, we use the Indian SIM cards.”

But not all villagers can entry Nepalese SIM playing cards. “Only those who know people in Nepal are able to get the SIM cards, others fail to get any,” stated Raju, one other villager.

“I don’t have anyone in Nepal, hence I am not able to get any Nepalese SIM card but I wanted one. I have to use the Indian ones only which have a very poor network here. Due to this, we face many problems especially in case of any emergency. This is the reason people here opt for a Nepalese SIM card,” he stated.

Gopal Singh, head Khumti gram panchayat stated, “The Indian service providers started their service here about two years ago only. Before that people used to avail the WLL services only. Despite the starting of their services, the network is very poor. People have to search for its signals by moving in the village for about 2-3 km. Many hang their mobile phones in trees nearby their house to catch the network,” stated Singh.

Singh additionally stated that as a result of Covid-19 pandemic, Nepalese SIM playing cards at the moment are troublesome to obtain. “As the movement of people has stopped due to the pandemic, the SIM cards are now not available easily. Those who have them, now have to ask their acquaintances in Nepal to recharge their connections.”

He stated that often one might get the Nepalese SIM playing cards of their Namaste Nepal or Sky networks at Rs 150-200.

“We have urged the administration to improve the connectivity of Indian networks in the area so that we don’t need to use the Nepalese ones any more, but it is yet to improve,” he stated.

Experts are divided on the utilization of Nepalese SIM playing cards by the villagers close to the border.

MS Waldia, a retired Indian military Colonel, termed using Nepalese SIM playing cards and web by the Indian villagers a ‘dangerous thing’ for nation’s safety.

“The government needs to take special attention towards the communication needs of border villages in the context of recent adverse behaviour of Nepal towards India,” he stated.

Ankur Chandrakant, a cyber knowledgeable in Uttarakhand, nonetheless, claimed that there is no such thing as a safety threat as such by way of Nepalese SIM playing cards by Indian villagers.

“It can’t pose any security risk as they are being used for normal calling only. But the government should work towards boosting the connectivity in those areas by installing boosters at mobile towers or new towers.”

The native public representatives together with Dharchula MLA Harish Dhami and Almora MP Ajay Tamta beneath whose constituency the world falls, are additionally conscious of the problem.

Dhami, Congress MLA from Dharchula supplied his MLA LAD funds to spice up the communication services within the space.

“I’m ready to give whatever money required to set up the basic infrastructure for the communication at Indo-Nepal and Indo-China border areas”, he stated

Almora MP Ajay Tamta stated cell phone towers will quickly be put in within the area. “Public telecom service provider BSNL is conducting a survey in the area keeping the needs of communication facilities. As soon as the survey gets completed, the work of installing towers will be started,” he stated.

Vijay Jogdande, district Justice of the Peace Pithoragarh stated the administration has written to BSNL and even the ministry of defence to take required measures to spice up the cellular connectivity.

“The final decision has to be taken by them as installing mobile towers or boosters to improve phone connectivity is their prerogative. Once it is done, we can then maintain it later. Meanwhile, we have provided satellite phones in at least 36 gram panchayats in the border areas to connect to the authorities concerned in case of a disaster or emergency,” stated Jogdande.