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Maharashtra govt to pull plug on cell towers if they breach radiation norms

The new cell tower policy lays down strict norms for setting up cell sites and base stations, in the interest of controlling radiation

To check the mushrooming of cell phone towers, the state’s new policy on installation of telecommunication cell sites/base stations (TCS/BS) warns service providers of heavy penalty, besides the possibility of shutdown if they violate norms.

Earlier, residents of Juhu were outraged with the cell towers in their neighbourhood, which were allegedly posing health hazards. File pic
Earlier, residents of Juhu were outraged with the cell towers in their neighbourhood, which were allegedly posing health hazards. File pic

The policy, which was notified by the government recently, encompasses all aspects of setting up and maintenance of TCS/BS. While making civic body chiefs as the competent authority to deal with permissions and their renewals for installation, the policy lays down that no unauthorised building can have TCS/BS. And any breach of the policy would be dealt with under the Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act (MRTP), 1966.

The final notification comes six months after its draft publication inviting suggestions and objections from the public. Besides structural stability of buildings, the telecom service provider (TSP) or infrastructure provider (IP) will have to submit no-objection certificates (NOCs) from various authorities, including the civil aviation ministry, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), chief fire officer, telecom ministry, and environmental and forest departments if the location falls under the coastal regulatory zone or forested areas. (See box for key regulations.)

Emission control
The policy says that the TSP/IP will have to follow the norms prescribed by the department of telecom (DoT) and the telecom enforcement resource & monitoring (TERM), in order to check the exposure to electromagnetic field radiation.

The providers will also have to submit self-certificates periodically to ensure all public areas around the site are within the safe exposure limits.

The TERM cell will also audit the sites at a venture. Any violation of norms will invite penal action by the TERM cell and DoT. It will also attract heavy penalties on the service provider and lead to the closure of the site or station.

Policy rules for erecting towers
>> The service provider will have to pay 1 per cent development charge on the ready-reckoner rate of the developed land. 
>> Administrative fee will be levied at the rate of R50,000 per application for setting up TCS/BS. 
>> Towers won’t be allowed on the premises of schools, colleges and hospitals as well as on land within 3 metres of the site’s boundary. 
>> Existing base stations will not be renewed after the expiry of their current period of approval.

Did you know?
As per the BMC’s approved norms, consent of 70 per cent of the occupants of a building is necessary for installation of TCS/BS.

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