MLAs unanimous on regulating telecom towers

Redraft bill to levy tax on cos, Speaker to govt

The Legislative Assembly on Monday deferred taking any decision on an amendment bill seeking imposition of tax on telecommunication towers following a demand from members across party affiliations that the government should bring in comprehensive amendments to regulate installation of towers, instead of only imposing tax on them.

On Friday, the government tabled an amendment bill in the Assembly, seeking to levy this tax on telecom towers. The Karnataka Municipalities and Certain Other Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014, empowers the urban local bodies to levy tax. Both the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, and the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964, will be amended for this purpose.

Former minister S Suresh Kumar (BJP) said mobile towers have become a menace in urban areas, especially Bengaluru. Besides the towers being an eyesore, radiations emanating from them are causing serious health hazards. Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) like Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) have no control over them. The government should take immediate steps to regulate installation of these towers, he added.

Senior member Ramesh Kumar (Congress) said towers are being installed recklessly. Currently, there are no rules governing their installation. There is a need for guidelines in this regard. So the government should bring in comprehensive amendments, including the one to impose tax, to the pieces of legislation concerned, he added.

Vasu (Congress) said mobile towers neither comply with zonal regulations nor building byelaws of a town. The strength of the structure on which these towers are erected should be examined to prevent accidents. The towers are also said to be causing environmental damage. It is high time they are regulated, he added.

Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa said what the members were saying made sense and urged the ruling party to withdraw the bill and redraft it. Law Minister T B Jayachandra urged the Speaker to defer the discussion on the bill by a day and promised to look into all the issues raised by the members.

Ramesh Kumar loses cool

Ramesh Kumar lost his cool as Municipal Administration Minister Qamarul Islam, who presented the bill in the House, was not paying attention to him.
“Why should I come to this House? What is the use of coming here when the minister is least bothered about the views of the members?” a visibly upset member stated, flinging his headphone on the desk.

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