Thursday, September 26, 2013

BMC to start taking down 1,800 illegal cell towers in Sept

BMC to start taking down illegal cell towers in Sept
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation next month will start the process of dismantling nearly 1800 illegal mobile phone towers in the city.

Nearly two weeks after it put in place a comprehensive mobile phone tower policy, the municipal corporation has decided to first target those towers that are not caught in a court case filed by service operators in 2011, when the municipal corporation had first initiated action against them.

"The new policy will be implemented with retrospective effect, which means it will cover all 4,500 mobile towers on rooftops in the city. Of these, we have identified 3,620 as illegal.

However, since some of the unauthorised towers are part of a case filed against the BMC by mobile operators, we will next month start the process of bringing down the rest," Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte said.

The mobile phone companies had managed to stall action against illegal towers in 2011 on the grounds that the BMC did not have a policy in place to regulate these towers.

With the new policy, which disallows more than two towers on a building and makes the consent of 70 per cent of a building's residents mandatory for installing mobile towers among other conditions, this excuse no longer exists.

The BMC will start by issuing notices to mobile phone operators and giving them two weeks to reply. Once the municipal corporation's legal department gives it the go-ahead after going through the responses, the work on dismantling the towers will start.

Kunte, however, clarified that though the policy incorporates guidelines issued by the Department of Telecommunication, it only deals with structural aspects of mobile towers. "It is the DoT's prerogative to look into radiation-related issues."

While citizen groups that have been focusing on health hazards of mobile tower radiation are happy with the BMC's move, mobile operators say that any harsh action will impact the quality of services.

"If the BMC takes harsh and arbitrary action, we will have to move court again. The towers are not illegal, many times mobile companies apply for permission but local bodies take time to respond. If the BMC goes ahead and removes the towers, network will be affected. Ultimately, the end-consumer will suffer," said Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India.

BJP corporator Vinod Shelar, who has spearheaded a campaign against illegal towers, said the BMC should not spare illegal towers. "It is shocking that only a quarter of the towers in the city are legal. The number of cases of people falling ill due to mobile towers is on the rise. The BMC must demolish all illegal towers immediately. The corporation has turned a blind eye all along, which is why so many illegal towers have come up."

The new policy bars installation of mobile phone towers on schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages, child rehabilitation centres and old age homes. It specifies that apart from the consent of 70 per cent of a building's residents, permission of every person living on the top floor must be taken.

Owners of a building keen to host cell phone towers must submit a structural stability certificate from a BMC-licensed structural engineer. If the building is over 30 years old, a fresh structural stability certificate will be needed every five years. A warning signboard must be installed at the entrance to the terrace where a tower is erected.

If a housing society wants cell phone towers removed due to radiation related issues, it will have to apply to the DoT. All government and civic agencies must consult Telecom Enforcement and Resource Monitoring (TERM) cells for approval to initiate action against a cell tower over radiation issues. Each state has its own TERM cell under the DoT.
ShPlease answer this simple math question.

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