Thursday, September 26, 2013

Citizen groups oppose new mobile tower rules

MUMBAI: Why is the state government sitting on the policy guidelines to regulate cell tower installation across Maharashtra though they were drafted two years ago, ask citizens from Thane, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan-Dombivli.
After the BMC recently drafted a policy to regulate such installations in Mumbai, other cities, second-rung towns and rural areas want similar guidelines to control the fast mushrooming network of cell towers. Thane resident Richa Domadia said she is worried about radiation as there are several mobile towers close to her building.
Citizens complained that the urban development department, led by the CM, was neither approving the policy nor getting it drafted through the respective municipalities. "The state had drafted its own regulation for setting up telecommunication cell site, base stations and equipment in 2011. It should have either issued a uniform policy for major cities, another for two-tier towns or districts, and separate rules for rural areas, or asked the local municipalities to draft their own policy soon after consulting the central advisory authority on radiation. Though Mumbaikars now have some control over cell towers, we still do not," said Akash Kondwilkar, a Dombivli resident.
"As Mumbai's topography and population density is different from other cities, it drafted its own policy. Similarly, every city and town should draft their own guidelines based on topography and population density," said P R Munshi, coordinator of the citizens' groups fighting against cell tower emissions in Mumbai.
The department of telecommunications has already formulated guidelines for the formation of state- and district-level telecom committees to regulate all the aspects of mobile telephony, said sources.
According to the state policy, a draft of which is available with TOI, no cell tower can come up without permission under various sections of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act or from the competent authorities, such as planning or municipal bodies or collectors, under this Act. "If the authority does not dispose of the application within 60 days from the date of submission, it shall be deemed approved," the policy stated. Cities like Pune, Nashi, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Kolhapur also want such guidelines and monitoring cells.
State authorities were not available for comment despite repeated attempts.

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