‘Not permitting cellphone towers not a solution’

Illegal

Even as there is growing concern among Mumbaikars over electromagnetic (EM) radiation from cellphone towers, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has gone slow in giving clearance for new towers.

An estimated 1,000 applications for new towers are pending with the BMC, while around 1,800 towers have been declared illegal.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is planning a meeting with the chief engineer of the BMC's Development Planning and Building Proposal department to gauge reasons for the delay and resolve them. "Not having mobile towers cannot be a solution. BMC is sitting on applications for new mobile towers. While many applications are not accepted, several are not getting processed in time," said Rajan Mathews, director general, COAI.

BMC officials said that around 1,830 of the of 3,500 mobile towers in Mumbai are illegal, most of which are on hospitals, schools and colleges. The civic authority pulled down 140 of them, before the High Court stayed demolition of illegal towers.

Mathews said COAI met civic chief Sitaram Kunte on Tuesday to apprise him of these problems. "With regard to pending applications, Kunte asked us to meet the chief engineer. We are planning to meet him to figure out logistical reasons causing the delay. Even in the case of the 1,800 cellphone towers, the reason for declaring them illegal is that they have not been granted permission by the BMC, and not complaints of radiation," he said.

"There are several critical issues we are facing vis-a-vis business, including the scare among people regarding radiation and the sudden spurt among citizens to demand shutting down of towers," Mathews added.

Yet another issue discussed was state or local governing bodies framing their own set of guidelines. While the BMC has come out with draft guidelines for installation of the towers, the COAI has maintained that city-specific guidelines could create a problem.

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