Private telecom towers okay, but where are the rules?

Private telecom towers okay, but where are the rules?

  Almost 15 years after the Karnataka Urban Development Department issued a circular to the municipal bodies in the State to frame rules for installing private telecom towers on residential and commercial buildings, the Karnataka Directorate of Municipal Corporations (KDMC) has now suddenly woken up to frame the rules, including on radiation levels emanated from a tower.

The directorate is in the process of framing the draft rules, which will be sent to the Additional Chief Secretary for approval. The State government initiated the process of framing the draft rules following the Centre’s direction to the Urban Development Department.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, KDMC Commissioner M S Ravishankar said the draft rule emphasised on the fee for setting up and maintaining telecom towers. There will also be a set of guidelines on the radiation level emanated by the telecom firms, he added.

The draft rule will also have guidelines where the telecom towers can be installed and where they cannot be.

Guidelines

Regarding the guidelines to check the radiation level, Ravishankar said, “We are taking the help of the Department of Electronics & Telecom.”

KDMC had framed a set of guidelines a fortnight ago, which drew public ire because they were apparently inadequate, lenient and ineffective to curb the tower menace. It did not mention the agencies to check the radiation level and the restrictions for erecting telecom towers in cities, towns and villages. It also did not mandate a no-objection certificate from neighbours.

Quite interestingly, documents accessed by Deccan Herald show that a circular was issued in March 1998 by the State government directing all the municipal bodies and town planning authorities to allow setting up of towers on private buildings as per rules, which never existed.

A similar circular was issued on March 2, 2005, following a request by telecom firms to set up towers on private buildings. As per the circular, civic bodies have to ensure the safety and strength of the building where the telecom towers are put up. The guidelines say that telecom firms have to comply with the taxation rules of local bodies and they will be solely responsible for any damage to the building and public safety.

Legislative rules

The fourth and important directive was that companies will have to abide by the legislative rules, which have not been framed till now.

The mushrooming of telecom towers on private buildings had been a major cause of concern for people in urban areas, mainly in metro cities such as Bangalore. Due to the rampant erection of telecom towers on rooftops, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the Department of Electronics and Telecom were flooded with complaints and RTI applications.

Taking people’s anger into consideration, the Department of Electronics & Telecommunication has directed all State governments to frame rules.

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