State finalises norms for mobile phone towers.....Ketaki Ghoge
Keeping check Service providers will need nod from multiple authorities, consent of residents
Cell phone companies across the state will soon have to follow strict guidelines for setting up towers. The state government will soon issue these guidelines that will include noise level specifications, installation details, approvals from the Department of Telecommunications and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) besides local authorities, and a provision for charging fees.
A panel of bureaucrats under Urban Development Secretary, T.C. Benjamin and Environment Secretary Valsa Nair Singh finalised the guidelines on Wednesday. The guidelines will be sent to Chief Minister Ashok Chavan for approval.
Cell phone transmission towers have come under flak from health experts and the public because of excessive radiation.
The government estimates that there are at least 5,000 illegal cell phone towers in the state. Mumbai alone has 3,489 towers, of which only 1,861 are legal.
The committee set up under the health secretary could not find any health hazards due to lack of hard evidence but as a precaution, we are laying down stringent norms on the lines of what the Delhi government has devised, said a senior bureaucrat, who is a member of the committee formulating the guidelines.
These guidelines state that cell phone providers will have to get the consent of every resident of a building before setting up a tower atop the terrace.
They will also have to get structural stability certificates from reputed institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay.
The state has created a priority list for sites where mobile towers can be installed. The first preference will be for municipal buildings except schools, hospitals and dispensaries. Commercial, industrial and institutional buildings and vacant land come next.
Towers will be allowed in residential buildings only if there is no alternative. As far as possible, multiple towers should be curtailed and licencees should optimise the use of existing towers by sharing them.
The guidelines have also specified that base station antennae should be at least three metres away from nearby buildings and should not directly face the building. The lower end of the antenna should be three meters above the ground or the roof.
The state is yet to work out the installation charges. The Delhi government charges Rs 5 lakh a tower and Rs1 lakh from each service provider in a tower is shared. The no-objection certificate has to be renewed every five years on payment of prescribed fee to local authorities.