Service providers may soon be able to install mobile towers at any location,irrespective of land use. The department of telecommunications (DoT) has issued a new set of guidelines effective June 1 that run contrary to a BMC draft policy of last year that proposed banning new towers on hospital and school premises.
Minister of state for communications and IT and shipping Milind Deora said,Since September 2012,the norms have been made 10 times more stringent. These are model guidelines,based on which we want all state governments,municipalities and panchayats to frame policies on structural safety and permits. We dont want municipalities or states to get into the health safety aspect as we have already formed a group to do an India-centric study. In model guidelines,we have given minimum space distance,we want states/municipalities to look at that. We also want them to focus on structural safety,stability,aesthetics and other issues.
Earlier this year,towers atop Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai were deactivated citing a 2010 BMC policy that did not permit such infrastructure on top of hospitals and schools.
Several resident associations in South Mumbai have been campaigning aggressively on the issue claiming radiation from towers atop buildings was affecting health of citizens.
A challenge to a Rajasthan High Court order to remove mobile phone towers near schools and hospitals is being heard in Supreme Court.
The DoT guidelines reiterate that telecom enforcement resource and monitoring (TERM) cells would deal with all radiation-related technical details.
As per the guidelines,telecom operators will have to establish that all general public areas where mobile towers have been installed are in safe electromagnetic field exposure limits at peak traffic time or adhere to safe distances specified.
The revised guidelines are a welcome relief and result of continuous interaction between DoT,state governments and the industry. It moves in the right direction of allowing the industry to grow with appropriate safety standards in place. DoT has instructed all states to make regulations on a par with the guidelines. This way,the industry will not have to deal with different regulations on location of cellphone towers. Safety norms established by DoT are for everyone. Hence,the notion of excluding schools and hospitals is inappropriate, said Rajan Mathews,director general of Cellular Operators Association of India.
In case of ground-based as well as rooftop towers,there shall be no nearby buildings right in front of the antennae with height comparable to the lowest antenna on a tower at a distance threshold specified, say the guidelines.
For instance,if there are six antennae in one direction,there should be no building or structure in front up to 55 metres. For four antennae,the safe distance specified is 45 metres,it is 35 metres for two antennae and 20 for one.
Further,an antenna mounted on a pole should be at least five metres above ground level/road level on flyovers.
DoT has told state/local administrative authorities that since telecom towers have been given infrastructure status via a gazette notification,all benefits,as applicable to infrastructure industry,should be extended.
Electricity connection may be provided to base trans-receiver stations (BTS) on priority. Telecom installations are lifeline installations and a critical infrastructure in mobile communication. To avoid disruption in mobile communication,sealing of BTS towers/disconnection of electricity may not be resorted to without the consent of the respective TERM cell, the guidelines say.
Submission of a copy of NOC from the building owner,copy of structural stability certificate and that of clearance from the fire safety department for highrises has been stipulated. For forest protected areas,submission of a copy of clearance from the state environment and forest department,if applicable,is mandatory.