Do local bodies have a say in installation of telecom towers across the cities?
An application was filed with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get information about the number of telecom towers in the Bangalore, provisions to check radiation level of telecom towers, permissible level of radiation, guidelines and restrictions on installing telecom towers in areas such as schools, residential buildings, hospitals, petrol pumps and defence establishments and the number of telecom towers erected illegally.
The reply, provided by the Engineer-in-Chief of the BBMP, states that the sought information was not available as the permission for installing telecom towers does not fall under the ambit of his office or the office of Chief Engineer. It also said that the Palike has no major role to play in checking violations regarding the radiation limits.
This is despite the fact that the guidelines of the central government on telecom towers state that the state and the local bodies should be made by either the telecom service provider being a licensee under section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act or by the infrastructure provider. However, a senior BBMP official reportedly said that a 21-point guideline from the union government gives ‘blanket permission’ to telecom service providers in matters of installation of telecom tower. The guidelines give the service provider unrestricted right of way for tower installation if the company enters into a legal contract with the owner though it also states that installation of base station antennas in schools and hospitals premises should be avoided.