India’s second largest TV tower a white elephant

It took 11 years and more than Rs 80 crore to erect it. However, nearly four years after it was erected and made functional, the Fazilka TV tower has failed to serve the very purpose, which necessitated its construction.

The television and the radio signals from Pakistan, which it was supposed to weaken, are still as strong as ever. Worse, the population, mostly rural, in all areas around 100 kilometres from its location, which it was supposed to serve have mostly switched over either to the cable connection or to the DTH.

The approximately 1,000 ft free standing tower, the second tallest man-made structure in India (after Rameshwaram TV tower, which is approximately 1,060 ft tall), has turned into a white elephant now. Planned as a relay station on lines of Jalandhar Doordarshan Kendra, apart from weakening the signals from Pakistan, the tower now relays only Doordarshan channels. No programmes are made here even though it houses the equipment necessary to create and relay them.

The work on the tower began in 1996, after residents of Fazilka, which shares borer with Pakistan, met former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and urged him to take steps to curb the anti-India propaganda being telecast by the neighbouring country on television and radio networks. The 1 KW TV tower in the area was not good enough to weaken the signals from Pakistan.

"Though the work with a project cost of about Rs 80 crore began in 1996. It was to be completed in two years. However, by the time it was completed in 2007, cable network and DTH connections had reached the border belt," said Leeladhar Sharma, who had led the delegation to meet PM in 1996.

He blamed the delay in construction on financial crunch, non-availability of skilled workers and death of half dozen labourers during the construction.

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