New Delhi, October 18: The Union Telecom Ministry on Wednesday announced a “Diwali gift” for the Indian Army, by reducing call rates on Digital Satellite Phone Terminal (DSPT), to ensure that they can speak to their loved ones during the festival for a longer durations. Also Read - Is it Diwali, Chhath Already? Migrants Face Heartbreaking Queries from Kids About Sudden Home Visit

“It’s a Diwali gift for soldiers from the ministry. They can now talk to their families for a longer durations without worrying about the charges,” telecom minister Manoj Sinha said in a statement. Also Read - Delhi Bursts Crackers to Celebrate Coronavirus Like Diwali After Misunderstanding PM's '9 Baje 9 Minute' Requests - Check Tweets

Prior to this scheme, soldiers use to pay a monthly sum of Rs 500 and Rs 5 per minute as call charges on most connections on DSPT. Also Read - Diwali Trends on Twitter as Netizens Share Memes After Modi's 'Diya Jalao to Fight Coronavirus' Request

The government’s move drastically reduces call rates, fro Rs 5 to Re 1 per minute, news agency PTI reported.

Starting from Thursday, the monthly charge of DSPT will be completely discarded, the Minister said in a statement. “For phone calls, instead of Rs 5 per minute, soldiers will now have to pay Re 1 per minute,” the minister further added.

Aruna Sundarajan, Telecom Secretary said that the move will cost the government Rs 3-4 crore per annum.

In India, there are 2,500 operational satellite phone connections. The service which was earlier provided by Tata Communications will now be provided by the state-run BSNL.

“There is a capacity of 5,000 connections. We are informing the defence and the home ministries that in future more connections can be given. The total capacity can be further increased, in six months, if it is desperately required,” Sinha added.