Western suburbs top BMC’s list of 'illegal' towers

Borivali (West), parts of south Mumbai and Andheri (West) have the largest number of illegal cellphone towers in the city, according to ward-wise data made available by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the first time.

The civic administration had earlier claimed there were 4,806 cellphone towers in the city, of which 3,661 were illegal. The latest data posted on its website estimates these figures at 4,776 and 3,618, respectively.

While the maximum number of illegal towers are in the western suburbs (1,650), the island city has 1,311 illegal cellphone towers and eastern suburbs 657.

Dismissing BMC's claims, the Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) recently claimed that not a single cellphone tower in Mumbai was illegal and that the civic body had been sitting on applications for 4,578 cellphone towers that had already been installed.

While cellphone towers and their perceived health hazard has been discussed for several years in the city, the debate intensified in 2011. The civic body issued three drafts of guidelines in just a year, the final one in September 2013. Besides, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the state's urban development department (UDD) too have drafted separate guidelines.

Currently, there is lack of clarity as to whose guidelines will be finally implemented in the city though some civic officials say they will have to go with the state government's policy.

With the number of illegal towers increasing from about 1,800 in 2011 to almost double at 3,618, civic officials say the rise was due to a lack of policy and numerous residential societies allowing such towers in their premises.

In 2011, mobile operators had moved the High Court court when the BMC launched a drive to demolish several mobile towers in the city and got a stay.

mihika.basu@expressindia.com &

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