NOC lens on mobile towers

RMC gives telecom majors a week to flash permit

  • Published 20.02.15

Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) on Thursday served a week's notice to all telecom operators in the state capital, as well as establishments hosting base transceiver stations, to furnish valid permits failing which they will face punitive actions ranging from dismantling of structures to hefty penalties.

The notice has been circulated to stakeholders through vernacular newspapers. Now, if the civic body walks the talk, it will be the first major crackdown on telecom giants not just in Ranchi but across the state where mushrooming mobile towers may be posing serious risks to health and environment.

A survey conducted by the RMC pegs the number of cell towers, technically known as base transceiver stations or just base stations, at 313 in areas under its jurisdiction. Unconfirmed reports, however, claim the figure is higher.

If senior officials of RMC are to be believed, only 12 have no-objection certificates from the civic authorities, which means several base transceiver stations installed by telecom giants like Tata Indicom, Airtel, Aircel and Reliance do not have operational clearance and are, therefore, illegal.

Like the RMC, command areas of Ranchi Regional Development Authority (RRDA) reportedly have 62 base stations. RRDA secretary Onil Clement Oriya couldn't say how many of them are registered, if any at all.

According to registration rules, a telecom operator needs to furnish a letter of consent on permissible radioactive limits procured from the department of telecommunications. It also needs to submit a report verified by a structural engineer to show that the tower's installation will not affect the host building or area. A one-time deposit of Rs 50,000 is charged. There is a separate annual renewal fee.

Simultaneously, a private building that leases out space for the tower needs to seek an NOC from the RMC. Permissions are given after physical verification.

Research shows that cell towers are detrimental to human health because they emit electromagnetic radiation at a frequency of 1,900MHz. Studies say radiations at such high frequency can adversely impact biological organisms within one square kilometre. The EMF or electromagnetic field is also feared to be "potentially carcinogenic". While most of these studies do not have proven data so far, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Public relations officer of RMC Naresh Sinha conceded that the number of cell towers in civic body areas might be higher than what their survey had showed. "That is why we have asked telecom companies to furnish legal papers within a week. After that, we will launch our crackdown to curb illegal installation of cell towers," he told The Telegraph.

Deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya was more forthcoming. "Only 12 towers are registered with us. For the rest, we do not have details. Our notice is also an open invite to telecom operators to come forward and register themselves with us. That way we can know the exact number of towers and put a freeze on further permissions," he said.

Will RMC be able to crack down on telecom operators? Tell