Saturday, August 31, 2013

Deora asks BMC to remove illegal mobile towers

Milind Deora, the minister of state for IT and communications, on Sunday asked a reluctant BMC to pull down illegal mobile towers, a day after Mirror reported that 75 per cent of towers on Mumbai's rooftops were illegal. Deora said that the BMC should not wait for the central government's word on the issue to remove cell towers that had been installed without permission.

A survey conducted by the civic body recently revealed that 3,620 out of the total 4,779 cell towers in the city were illegal. "If the BMC's survey has found that 75 per cent of towers are unauthorised, then civic officials must pull them down," the MP from south Mumbai said. "Any delay in forming a municipal policy on mobile towers cannot be attributed to the Department of Telecommunications as it deals with the subject of radiation, and not structural issues."

Civic officials often do not take action against companies that illegally put up cell towers citing legal hurdles — some companies have moved court over the issue — and the delay by the central government to provide policy inputs.

Last month, the BMC announced a draft policy that limits the number of towers per building to two and requires companies to obtain approval from the owner and majority occupants.

It also bars companies from installing such structures on or near schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages, child rehabilitation centres and old age homes. The rules will be finalised once the state urban development department gives its consent.

Recently, Deora spoke to BMC chief Sitaram Kunte, urging him to speed up the process "as there is an urgent need to regulate installation of cell towers in the city".

In 2011, the number of illegal towers in the city was 1,800. The figure has more than doubled since then.

"This is an issue of a structure coming up illegally. The BMC has the necessary powers to take action in such cases. If it needs any technical support, the DoT is ready to help," Deora said, adding that the DoT had forwarded guidelines to municipal bodies across the country to help them frame new rules.

The minister feels housing societies that allow mobile companies to set up towers without authorities' nod should also be penalised.

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