South Delhi Municipal Corporation directed its officials to identify illegal mobile phone towers in its jurisdiction and start sealing them.
The issue was raised in the standing committee meeting with councilors blaming officials for delaying the process of identifying illegal towers, submitting their details and not asking telecom firms to regularise them despite a settlement agreement finalized by Delhi high court in 2017.
Standing committee chairperson Shikha Rai said, “The officials had earlier said they were aware of the status of 80% of the mobile towers, but have not submitted their details till date. In a joint meeting with tower operators last year, the officials had agreed to look into their demand to settle arrears against the advance money paid by them. But nothing has happened till date.”
Rai also made it clear that new licenses would not be issued to operators unless the issue of illegal mobile towers was sorted out.
A senior official, on the condition of anonymity, said that in the past six months SDMC has received at least 300 applications from operators for installing new towers. “Though permission was given in some cases, the process was stopped after the standing committee chairperson’s instructions,” he added.
There are around 4300 mobile towers in SDMC areas of which around 1,500 are legal. “We are doing a fresh survey to identify the exact number of illegal towers. In Najafgarh zone, there are 202 illegal and 429 legal towers. Data is yet to be compiled for the other three zones,” the official said. Since 2012, the three municipal corporations have sealed hundreds of illegal towers for not complying with rules of Tower Policy, 2010, such as not obtaining structural
“The sealing action was discontinued after cell tower operators challenged the policy in Delhi high court. They opposed the increase in licensing fees from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. A settlement agreement was finally signed between the civic bodies and the service providers in January 2017,” the official said.―Times Of India