New flashpoint is cable digitisation, protests next
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With the fear of a cable blackout looming large in Kolkata with the digitisation deadline ending on Wednesday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday lashed out at the Centre saying that it has no right to thrust unnecessary expense upon the residents of Kolkata.
"They just cannot snap the analogue signal without giving proper time and option to people. As far as digitisation is concerned, authorities should look into three primary areas before making set top boxes mandatory — availability, fair price and affordability," she said.
The Centre had extended the digitisation deadline for the four metropolitan cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai — several times. Recently the West Bengal government had sought another extension citing "law and order problem".
She termed the Centre's move mastani (high handedness) and said Bengal would not tolerate such "dictatorship". "If need be, we will organise a movement against this. The Centre cannot just take away the right to watch TV from them," she said.
Without making it very clear, the CM also hinted at a possible "foul play" in the process.
"Why is the Centre in such a hurry to implement the set top boxes. And since the demand is staggering, why was the contract given to only two-three companies. An inquiry has to be made into these issues," she suggested.
Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim later met Kolkata Police Commissioner, I&B Secretary and Home Secretary on the digitisation state.
The state government said that over 50 per cent of the 33 lakh cable connections of the city are yet to be digitised. This is a much lower figure than the Centre's assessment, which last week said that 86 per cent households in Kolkata have been digitised.
Operators agree to no blackout for 2 weeks
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