PCB ‘topples’ mobile tower truck in cantonment

Section 235 of the Cantonments Act 2006 says 'whoever intends to erect or re-erect any building in a cantonment shall apply for sanction by giving notice in writing of his intention' but a mobile company appears to have found a way to veer round the rule by placing a mobile tower on a truck. Technically, there is no building, no construction and hence, no violation.

The truck-tower on plot (No 20) in Wanowrie Bazar area, which has a market nearby, generated a lot of interest but it stood for just around a week, with the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) objecting to it and serving notices on the telecom company. The tower has since been lowered and has been non-functional since the first week of August.

Permission from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is required for installing mobile towers in defence areas. It appears the tower ws a matter of concern because of its proximity to the Army Signals Unit and the Military Intelligence School.

Bharati Airtel signed an agreement with the owner of the land, Yogesh Aggarwal, on July 20 to station a truck with a mobile tower on the plot (General Land Register survey number 779/ 23) in Wanowrie Bazar. Installation of the 20-metre tower was completed on July 25 and the PCB notice was served on July 31.

"PCB officials told us we have not taken permission. We applied for permission and sought an appointment with PCB CEO and were told to approach the commanding officer of the signals unit," said Swapnil Kortikar, team lead, in- building solutions (IBS), Bharti Airtel Ltd.

The plot near Wanowrie market is an Old Grant site under PCB management. Addition to or alteration of Old Grant sites require cantonment board permission.

Alok, son of Yogesh Aggarwal said, "Our plot was vacant. We are not doing any construction on it and instead just renting it out to the telecom company for Rs 18,000 a month for which we are going to pay tax. In any case, this is a temporary arrangement until the company gets a permanent location to install their tower, which is a need of consumers in the vicinity. We fail to understand why the PCB is opposing the tower."

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