Ground rules ignored for telecom towers

An RTI by a resident unearths guidelines that are overlooked

Ground rules ignored for telecom towers

Mobile towers on Kammanahalli Main Road. DH Photo

Protests against such towers have been growing mainly from residential areas as there are concerns about their safety aspects. But residents hitherto did not have avenues to check their expansion.

However, a resident of Kalyan Nagar has unearthed little known rules that make it mandatory for telecom services companies installing telecom towers to obtain clearances and inform local authorities, and seek the residents’ permission before installing the towers.

For people protesting against the installations, there is frustration about the lack of rules that seem to govern them. But the documents furnished in response to a RTI application by a frustrated resident threw a couple of interesting guidelines.

When Jayaprakash Gowda (name changed), a resident of Kalyannagar, refused the offer of installing a telecom tower on the roof of his house, little did he know that this neighbour would have no such qualms.

“My neighbour’s house is one feet away from my compound. They have violated even the basic rules for setbacks,” Gowda says. Unhappy with having a tower so close to his residence, he decided to check for the rules that govern the installation of the towers.

A circular dated March 2, 2005, which specifies the requirement for installing telecom towers, mysteriously said that “other laws had to be followed”.  

So, Jayaprakash applied for information under RTI, questioning what the “other laws” were. The response in the form of four circulars issued by the State government threw up a few surprises.

Specific rules

A circular dated November 12, 2001, specifies that captive power generator sets cannot be placed on the roof top of any building. But in most cases, this rule is easily flouted as generators are kept right next to the towers on roof tops.

Another government order dated May 29, 2002, states that companies should seek the approval of Air Traffic Controller, Airport Authority of India for exemption of roof top antennae from restriction.

Further, for ground antennas, clearances should be obtained from Electrical Inspectorate, the Directorate of Fire Services and from the owners’ association, if there is any.

The Fire Services department categorically stated that there was no provision in any Act to take their permission. When the Carlton Towers was engulfed in flames, the fire services was helpless against the fact that the management had locked the doors to the terrace that housed four antennae.

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