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After rooftops, telecom towers invade pavements

Bangalore, G Manjusainath, Oct 3, 2013, DHNS :
A telecom tower on a footpath on MG Road. DH photo

If the telecom tower atop a building next to your house worries you, here is a shocker.

Telecom towers have now found their way to pavements, with the base antennas within the reach of anyone, including children, even as the government and the BBMP look the other way. Wires dangling from the towers too are within anybody’s reach.

This reporter spotted at least three telecom towers on pavements on MG Road (near Anil Kumble Circle), Nrupathunga Road and Kasturba Road.

However, the telecom companies were ‘kind enough’ to put up ‘danger’ and ‘warning’ signboards on the tower at Anil Kumble Circle. The signboards mentioned that the tower emanates dangerous radiation.

Yediyur corporator N R Ramesh said there are more than 1,200 such towers on pavements.

He said in almost all cases, telecom firms did not seek permission of the Palike, on whose properties such structures come up. He said there are at least 18 telecom firms, of which 12 have installed towers without seeking permission from any authority.

“It is mandatory to seek the permission of all building owners in the vicinity to set up towers, but it is never followed,” said Ramesh.

Former deputy mayor S Harish alleged that such structures cannot come up on pavements without political patronage. The then minister for environment and planning had issued directions in January this year to the directorate of municipal administration as residents flooded various departments with complaints and RTI applications, over mushrooming of telecom towers. 

He said telecom towers should not be set up on the ground and they should be away from buildings. Permission of the owner of the property for installing the towers is a must, he said.

The guidelines by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) said, “Installation of base station antennas within the premises of schools and hospitals may be avoided in future as children and patients are more susceptible to electro-magnetic fields.”

It also said, “Base station antennas should be away from buildings and above the ground and roof to ensure compliance with prevailing radiation limits.”

The DOT said that access to base station antenna site should be prohibited to the public by suitable means such as wire fencing, locking of the door to the roof, etc.

It is still not clear whether BBMP gave permission to set up telecom towers on the pavement, with the height merely 15 feet from the ground.

Mayor B S Sathyanarayana said he was not aware of the telecom tower on the footpath at Anil Kumble Circle. He said he would get the matter investigated by the zonal commissioner and chief engineer of BBMP (east zone).

Corporators N R Ramesh and S Harish have been raising the matter of mushrooming telecom towers in the City. They had raised the matter in the Palike Council meeting too. They had said that the telecom companies were bleeding the BBMP by not paying taxes, rents for the towers and optical fibre cables.


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