BMC yet to take action aganist illegal mobile towers

More than a month after it drafted a stricter policy on installation of mobile towers, civic body is yet to get the state's approval on the same; meanwhile, a list on the BMC website has declared 3,618 towers in the city illegal

The civic body is yet to take tangible action on its mobile tower policy. It’s been a month since the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation drafted a policy to keep a check on mobile towers in the city (it was done in November), especially on residential buildings, and near schools and hospitals.

Activists have been very vocal about the alleged health effects these towers have on the city. Hence, last week the BMC released a list of mobile towers in the city that were legal of the 4,776 towers, 3,618 are illegal (See box for examples of three such buildings) and 1,158 are legal. This means a shocking 75 per cent of the towers are unauthorised. The illegal towers are the ones the BMC never gave permissions to be installed. According to the rules, these towers have to be pulled down.

According to the policy draft (copy available with MiD DAY), mobile towers cannot be placed within 100 metres of hospitals and educational institutions. The consent of the residents of the top floor also have to be taken and 70 per cent of the residents of the society have to give their consent to the tower before it being installed.

Though the new stricter rules have pacified activists to some extent, operators are not too pleased. According to them, the crackdown on mobile towers may lead to poor network coverage in the city. An official spokesperson of the Cellular Operators Association of India said, “There are already cases of call drops and network issues for various mobile networks. If the policy is approved, performance of mobile networks may suffer even more.”

Though the civic body has delayed forwarding the document to the Urban Development Department for comments and approvals, they say it will be done soon. Rajeev Kuknur, chief engineer, development planning, told MiD DAY, “We will be forwarding the revised draft policy to the state government and only then will we decide on the action.”

Illegal towers in the city
MiD DAY paid a visit to three buildings in the city, whose terraces have been declared as having illegal towers by the BMC.

Pic: Nimesh Dave

Square One, Andheri (West)
This is a commercial complex with a famous designer’s shop on the ground floor. There are about 10-12 commercial offices in the five-storey structure, which has mobile towers on its terrace. It is hardly a few metres away from Sujay Hospital and Criticare Hospital. When MiD DAY visited the building to check on why the towers had not been pulled down, the building’s security guard informed us that there was no one available and that he did not know anything about the mobile tower on the terrace.

Pic: Nimesh Dave

Shreeji Kiran, Vile Parle (East)
This building on Tejpal Road is very close to the railway tracks and the terrace is full of mobile towers. The seven-storey building has had this equipment since 2009, but the civic authorities have deemed them to be illegal. Ujjval Mehta, the chairman of the building, said, “We will be adhering to BMC’s instructions. We will take a call on pulling down the mobile towers, as decided by society members.”

Pic: Bipin Kokate

Avishkar Khatauwadi, Grant Road
This is again very close to the railway station and has one mobile tower, which is included in BMC’s list. However, GS Tiwari, the secretary of the building, maintained the society had all the permissions in place, “This is a baseless inclusion in the list by the BMC. We have all permissions for this tower. In the past, the BMC had issued a notice for our illegal towers, which we removed. I don’t know why they’re blaming us now.”

The number of illegal mobile towers in the city

The number of legal mobile towers in the city

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