Though Kochi corporation council is yet to ratify the mayor’s decision to give anticipatory approval for erecting telecommunication poles in city, telecom companies are erecting poles. There are allegations that the poles erected by the telecom firms pose safety threats as well.
Some of the councillors have come up with protest against such firms erecting poles in their divisions. “Though the mayor gave anticipatory approval for erecting poles in the city, the council didn’t ratify it. So, we objected to the moves by such firms to erect poles in our division,” said Sudha Dileep Kumar, councillor from Ernakulam Central division. “We can’t allow such moves until the council gives nod for the same,” she said.
Mayor M Anilkumar said that the telecom companies have got all the approvals. “They have got all the approvals except the ratification by the council. Finance and works standing committees gave the nod for the same. Still, the firms should follow all the norms. They will have to take the councillors into confidence while erecting poles,” Anilkumar said. “At the same time, there may be some opposition fuelled by political motives. I don’t want to respond to it,” he said.
Some of the residents have come up with allegations that the poles also pose a safety threat. “The poles don’t have caps on the top so as to insulate it from electricity lines. As per norms, there should be a clearance of one metre from the electricity lines. But the telecom firms don’t follow such norms,” said BJP district committee member T Balachandran. “The poles erected near schools like the one run by Ananda Chandrodayam Sabha at Kaloor pose a threat to the students. If the poles get in touch with the electric lines, there are chances for students or others to get electric shock. Still, authorities don’t act,” Balachandran said.
Meanwhile, telecom companies claimed that they have got permission from the corporation to erect poles. “We have been executing this project in line with the permission received from Kochi corporation, which has mentioned the road names and number of poles sanctioned by civic body authorities. Adhering to the permission norms, we intimate all the utility departments before starting the project.
“We strictly comply with the safety norms during installations. Our poles have been insulated on the top and we have ensured that the heights have been maintained at a safer distance from the KSEB poles and electric lines. In many of the locations a joint survey with KSEB officials have been performed for assuring adherence to safety norms. We also use ADSS cables (anti-dielectric self-supporting) for overhead laying and also use FRP (fibre reinforced poles) as additional safety measures,” said an official with a major telecom company which erects such poles in the city.
Opposition leader Antony Kureethra and councillor Deepthi Mary Varghese said that the UDF councillors had expressed their dissent over the mayor giving anticipatory approval for telecom firms to erect poles. The mayor’s approval will become nullified unless the council ratifies his decision. So, the approval given by the mayor stands cancelled, they said. The Times of India