The three civic bodies have time and again announced crackdowns on illegal cellphone towers in the Capital but a large number of structures continue to exist.
According to sources, of the 1,933 such towers in the North civic body’s jurisdiction, only 882 have the authorities’ approval and 677 are continue to function without its permission. There are a total of 1,470 towers in the east corporation’s area. Of these, 882 have the civic body’s sanction. The remaining 588 towers are illegal.
In the South corporation, of the 6,216 cell phone towers, 3,399 are illegal and the remaining 2,817 are operating without permission.
“So far, the north corporation has issued 197 showcause notices across different zones. In January and February, 31 such illegal towers were sealed. The east civic body sent notices to 196 and 155 towers in Shahadra North and South zones, of which a total of 27 towers were sealed. In the south corporation area, 201 towers have been sealed,” a senior official said.
But the question remains: Why are the civic bodies not taking adequate action against such structures despite being aware of their existence?
According to an official in the North civic body, there are many “illegal” towers for which the paperwork and charges have been submitted, but certain clearances such as those from Delhi Pollution Control Board and structural clearances are pending. “There are many tower owners which have not submitted the monetary charges,” the official said.
He said that a case is pending before the high court, which once decided will bring clarity on the issue and help the corporation in regularising these towers. The case will come up for hearing on July 19.
“In 2010, a revised policy was introduced which raised the fees to set up towers from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. This was challenged in a single-bench high court, which struck down the selection of sites and hiked the fees. This was challenged in a divisional bench and the appeal is pending. Once the policy is finalised, then existing structures can be regularised,” the official said.
The Supreme Court has already imposed a ban on installation of mobile towers on school and hospital buildings. According to activists, these are potential health hazards as radiation emanating from them can cause cancer. Cell phone towers can also damage and weaken the buildings on which they are installed.