Tired of climbing trees and trekking hills for better mobile connectivity, locals in Odisha’s Kandhamal district have erected a tower for cash-strapped BSNL, the State-run telecom service provider, to instal its signal system.The residents of 20 villages under Dadaki panchayat of Phulbani block now look forward to uninterrupted connectivity in their homes for the first time.Cell phone connectivity has been missing in Dadaki panchayat, located barely 10 km from the district headquarter town of Phulbani, even two decades after introduction of cell phone services in the State.Protests demanding connectivity were often rebuffed by State government officials on the grounds that the issue fell under the jurisdiction of telecom service providers.During one such agitation earlier this year, Phulbani BDO Subrat Kumar Jena held informal discussions with BSNL officials and asked them to spell out their basic requirement to operationalise a mobile tower.Although BSNL had Micro BTS, which can transmit signals, it did not have enough funds to erect a tower.“I asked BSNL officials whether a tower could be built from unused and rusted tubewell pipes. Upon getting the green signal, I told the residents,” said Mr. Jena.People readily offered their labour to construct the tower. “We provided uninterrupted power supply from the panchayat office to the tower by purchasing inverters,” said Mr. Jena.“We found the tower handy for installation of a low-power signal station,” said BSNL Sub-Divisional Officer R.K. Behera.The tower could last for the next three to four years.Cell phone connectivity eludes around 40% of rural Kandhamal. Geographical barriers and the threat of Left-wing extremists have been a stumbling block for the setting up of towers.In similar efforts, people had raised funds to set up a handmade cell phone tower in Sadingia and Jageshpanga village under Phiringa block of the district. Even the Block Development Office at Chakapada was till recently devoid of connectivity. The wireless tower was converted into a cell phone tower on the block office premises.In July 2015, a couple, Duba Nayak and his wife Budi, were killed in remote Kotgarh block by security forces who had mistaken them for Left-wing extremists. The couple had trekked Ladima hills to get cell phone connectivity.