The central and the Delhi governments have given permission to set up mobile towers in residential areas by modifying the unified building bylaws.
Changes to the building bylaws were introduced in Delhi in March this year.
The modifications restricted the establishment of mobile towers in residential areas. This led to confusion among the municipal corporations as almost 80% of the towers are in residential areas.
“No signage/communication tower and advertisement is to be provided in residential buildings,” the bylaws stated.
Owing to the confusion, the municipal corporations had approached the ministry of urban development for a changes in the norms.
“Considering that only 20% mobile towers fall in non-residential areas this would have led to cellular problems or created ‘drop zones’,” said a high-ranking municipal official.
Technical experts say call drops are a result of an increase in the number of dead zones either due to fewer mobile towers in the range or hindrance in signal movement. Towers have a five-km range, signals weaken outside this range.
Union Urban Development minister M Venkaiah Naidu, had in March this year, released the new bylaws. The changes were made in a bid to cut red tape and limit the public-official interaction to reduce corruption.
But a Delhi government notification said that while the laws restricting the cell towers have been omitted, the permission to set up new ones has been left to the discretion of the municipal corporations.
“The permission to grant permit to a mobile tower once again lies with the municipal corporations, which will be subject to technical and safety parameters and payment of all fees and charges to the municipal corporations,” said a civic official.
There are 7,926 mobile towers under the jurisdiction of the three municipal corporations. Officials, however, say an additional 3,500 have been set up without permission.
“The number of mobile towers before trifurcation was 5,252 but the number increased exponentially in the past three years, especially near residential areas,” said a municipal official.