Bhubaneswar, Sept. 10: The housing and urban development department is all set to crack the whip one of city’s towering problems.
To ensure better coverage and connectivity, mobile service providers have been installing towers across the city. However, the mushrooming of unregistered mobile towers has worried the state government.
At present, there are 405 mobile towers registered with the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation. But, around 600 have been set up without registration, taking advantage of the absence of any guidelines.
The housing and urban development department has, therefore, framed a set of guidelines for installation of mobile towers. The law department’s nod has been sought on the guidelines, which are likely to be implemented after the civic polls are over.
The new guidelines have been prepared after studying the telecom regulations of New Delhi, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Bengal.
“Mobile telecom towers have come up everywhere in the city taking advantage of the lack of guidelines. Many have come up atop multi-storey buildings, threatening these structures. These towers also carry a heavy risk of radiation. In some cases, multiple towers have been installed on a single building,” said a senior official of the housing and urban development department.
However, the state government has said that even after the notification of the new guidelines, the contract period of telecom service providers, who have already set up the towers, would be respected.
Once the contract period is over, towers that violate the guidelines will be removed.
On the location of the towers, the regulations suggest use of vacant land in and around the city, so that the non-residential space and buildings are involved in erecting the structures.
However, permission will not be allowed to install telecom towers near educational, religious and health care delivery institutions.
“In case of the group housing projects, the telecom operator has to get permission from the housing society or the residents’ welfare association. An individual flat owner cannot decide on it,’’ said additional chief secretary of housing and urban development department and development commissioner Injeti Srinivas.
Saying that ensuring the safety of the people was the department’s foremost priority, Srinivas added: “While the companies erecting towers will have to produce a safety certificate on electric and magnetic fields exposure limits from the Telecom Enforcement Resource Monitoring Cell, they should also have the infrastructure to withstand eventualities such as storm and lightning. Generator sets installed near the towers must conform to the noise and emission norms.”
The regulations will also ask the telecom service providers to avoid narrow lanes to reduce the risks caused by possible disasters such as an earthquake or a cyclone. While the sites will be prohibited for public by wire fencing and locking of the door to the roof, there should also be warning signs to discourage prolonged stay in the zone even for maintenance personnel.
City-based environment expert Bijay Mishra said: “It is a known fact that the radiation hazards have caused extinction of species such as small birds and bees from many areas. So it is certain that there are effects on the human bodies as well. We hope the new restrictions will make people safer.”
According to the proposed guidelines, a service provider will get the civic body’s nod to erect such a tower within two months from the date of application. But if the civic body fails to respond to an application within 60 days, the application will be deemed to have been approved.
The fee for granting permission for mobile towers depends on the civic body.
In Bhubaneswar, the corporation charges Rs 12,500 as the fee for granting permission. It collects Rs 3,400 as an annual licence renewal fee for each tower registered under it.
Similarly, to renew the application after every three years, the service provider will have to apply three months in advance before the date of expiry of the contract. Renewal applications are to be sanctioned in 30 days, but if more documents are needed, the service provider will be asked to submit them.
If the civic body fails to provide the renewal permission within 30 days, the application will be considered renewed. A corporation official said: “There should be a clause mentioning that if the applicants fail to submit documents within a stipulated timeframe, their applications would be deemed rejected.”