OUT OF over 500 mobile phone towers in the satellite cities of Vasai and Virar, only 26 have proper permits and pay taxes to the municipality. The Shiv Sena has alleged that while the Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC) is trying to shore up its revenues, cellphone tower companies have been given a free reign.
The VVCMC came into existence in 2009. Since then, only 26 cellphone towers are recorded to have been given permissions by the municipality in the twin towns of Vasai and Virar.
“Several cellphone towers were existing before that or had begun construction before the corporation came into existence. After that too, cellphone towers have been coming up, but they are located on private properties and their documentation shows that the land was procured before 2009,” said an officer from the VVCMC.
Shiv Sena leader Milind Chavhan from Vasai-Virar claimed that the corporation has been neglecting its duty of ensuring that the cellphone tower companies pay taxes. “That’s how so many mobile towers have come up. They have no permits and if any accident occurs, the corporation doesn’t even have any information about them. The loss of crores in revenue in the form of taxes is another issue that we have brought before the commissioner,” Chavhan told The Indian Express.
While the matter has been discussed multiple times by the political parties in the VVCMC’s general body meeting, no action has been initiated. “All the towers that come up now have to take permissions from us. We haven’t taken any action yet against the old ones,” a senior officer from the Revenue Department of the municipality said.
VVCMC commissioner Satish Lokhande said it is true that only 26 among over 500 towers are legal, but that these towers were installed before the formation of the corporation. “We have recently, formulated a policy for these old towers. Several new towers have come up and they are completely legal. We also have several applications pending,” he said.
He added that the old towers would be divided into two categories — those with permission from TRAI and societies where the towers are located, which can be legalised, and others.
“In that, the corporation will earn over Rs 1 lakh in just the first round of giving permits and then year after year, we will get taxes from them. Those that can’t be regularised, we are going to fine by charging double the taxes. The policy has been recently formulated and we are rolling it out now.”