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Clause allowing installation of cell towers at all places removed

South Mumbai residents had written to Deora protesting DoT model guidelines.

Written by Mihika Basu | Mumbai |
Updated: April 14, 2014 12:10:56 pm

THE department of telecommunications (DoT) has removed a clause from its model guidelines that allowed installation of cellphone towers at all locations,irrespective of land use.

The clause was contrary to a BMC draft policy banning new cellphone towers on hospital and school premises.

Minister of state for communications and IT and shipping Milind Deora said the guidelines were advisory,not a binding policy.

“I have also asked my ministry to review the land-use clause. The clause relates to agricultural versus non-agricultural land but as it has created concern among people,I asked my department to explain the rationale. I told them if it is not a critical clause,it can be dropped,” he said.

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The guidelines for issue of clearance for installation of mobile towers were to become effective on June 1 but Deora has instructed his ministry to consider delaying finalisation of model guidelines for municipalities and panchayats till discussions are held with members of civil society.

“Government of India does not have the powers to make guidelines binding on local bodies. It is up to states/municipalities/panchayats to apply own wisdom and frame rules. I can only hope they will take into account our concerns and suggestions. In fact,I would urge activists in Mumbai to pressure municipal councillors to get BMC to adhere to our advisory,” he said.

Deora said he had asked his department to hold meetings with credible residents in Mumbai and Delhi and consider their suggestions.

“We are open to suggestions and we want this to be a strong advisory. We have to be careful to consult credible activists and experts,not those with commercial interests.”

The developments come after South Mumbai residents wrote a strongly-worded letter to Deora on May 26 alleging opinions of citizens were ignored in framing the model guideliens.

“We are happy and positive. The meeting between the ministry and citizens is expected in the first week of June,” said Prakash Munshi,a South Mumbai resident who has been actively campaigning against radiation from cellphone tower antennae.

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