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BMC’s draft policy on cell towers arbitrary,say cellular operators

A copy of the letter has also been submitted to the chief minister.

Written by Mihika Basu | Mumbai | Published: September 21, 2013 1:33:37 am

Claiming it could become inconvenient and even critical if there is no mobile network at hospitals across Mumbai,the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has written to the civic body chief saying its draft policy has inserted “arbitrary clauses” that are not in sync with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) guidelines.

BMC’s draft policy does not allow installation of mobile tower antennae on top and within 100 metres of educational institutes,hospitals,children’s correction homes,senior citizens’ homes and hostels/orphanage buildings for children.

In fact,as per BMC’s revised draft,existing mobile antennae,approved earlier on schools/colleges and hospital buildings,will also not be renewed further after the expiry of their approval period and they will be removed thereafter.

“Mobile services are operated under the licence of the Central government,which makes it obligatory to provide telecom network coverage at all places,including schools,colleges and places like hospitals where doctors need to be contacted on emergency matters. DoT guidelines do not state any exclusion zones… because safety norms have been set at low enough levels to protect all segments of the society. The DoT advisory specifically says that ‘telecom installations are lifeline installations and a critical infrastructure in mobile communication’. You can well imagine how inconvenient and critical it may become if there is no coverage at vital medical institutions across the city at times of urgency,” says the COAI letter,dated September 19 and addressed to BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte. A copy of the letter has also been submitted to the chief minister.

According to the COAI,the ban clause is also against a Delhi High Court order of April 29,2011,which says municipal corporations cannot select sites for installation of mobile towers.

“The Delhi HC had evaluated and analysed the jurisdiction of municipal corporations in matters of mobile telephony and had struck down Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s claim to choose mobile tower sites and its claim that the permission or no-objection certificate (NOC) is required from the residents’ welfare association (RWA) before setting up mobile towers. The Delhi HC had said it was unreasonable to seek RWA’s permission to set up an infrastructure of a key industry,” says Rajan Mathews,COAI director general,in the letter.

The BMC’s revised policy mandates 70 per cent written consent of individual members/tenants/occupants of the building/apartments/cooperative housing societies before installing antennae or renewing of the contract/agreement.

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