The state government on Monday decided to crack down on telecom service providers and regulate setting up of cellular towers across the state. Holding a meeting with various stakeholders, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara said that henceforth, it will be mandatory for telecom companies to maintain a 50-metre buffer zone around schools, colleges, hospitals and religious structures besides mandatorily obtaining licenses from local bodies in three months.
Keeping in mind public safety, the state government said the new rules have been framed under The Karnataka Installation of new Telecommunication Infrastructure Towers Regulations 2015. “Until now, there were no guidelines for companies to install towers and all of them have put up towers according to their wish. Hence, we have framed rules in the interest of citizens’ health,” Parameshwara briefed reporters.
According to reports, there are more than 30,000 optical fiber cable and telecommunication towers across the state. In Bengaluru alone, there are 6,766 mobile towers.
Parameshwara said that so far, there have been only oral complaints about radiation effects and no scientific study has validated these claims.
Acknowledging that many of the cellular towers have not complied with rules, Parameshwara said, “Towers that have not complied with the buffer zone rules have to be dismantled in the next three months and must remove towers that have been erected near schools and colleges.”
This apart, the government has also revised the licence fee for towers. Installation of towers within Bengaluru will cost Rs 1 lakh whereas it would cost Rs 35,000 in city corporation limits. Similarly, if the towers have to be set up in town municipalities, a charge of Rs 25,000 will be levied and those within gram panchayat limits will be charged Rs 15,000.
“We have reduced the time to obtain the permission from local authorities to 45 days and the companies can apply online as well,” Parameshwara said. But for companies wishing to renew licenses, a time gap of 15 days has been granted. Regulations apart, the telecom companies must also obtain building plan occupancy certificates along with the analysis of the safety measures undertaken by the building. The companies should also install sound-proof generators to power towers. They must facilitate public complaints and set up a distress cell and committees across the state to monitor issues pertaining to mobile towers.