Even as the state has appointed a committee to study the health hazards cell phone towers are posing to people, the municipal corporation has found out that nearly half the mobile towers in the city are illegal.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corportion’s (BMC) latest survey shows of 3,489 cell phone towers in Mumbai only 1,861 are legal.
The remaining 1,628 did not have the BMC’s approval. Of these illegal cell sites, 568 are in Bandra, Khar Road, Santacruz, Vile Parle, Andheri and Jogeshwari. The largest number, 261, is in K-East ward, including Vile Parle (E), Andheri (E) and Jogeshwari (E).
The up market D ward (Malabar Hill, Nana Chowk, Nepean Sea Road) has 300 cell phone towers of which 138 are unauthorised. Service providers mostly erect towers on residential buildings to provide customers with the better network and connectivity. Housing societies agree because the companies pay to erecting these towers.
The BMC’s current policy allows for regularising these towers if companies fulfill the norms according to DC rules amended in 2000, that is getting a structural stability certificate from a certified architect and a no-objection certificate from the housing society where the tower is to be erected.
Following several complaints from citizens about these illegal towers, Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya had said that the BMC will amend the policy to regulate mobile phone towers. The BMC is planning a policy to decide how many towers can be permitted in the city, their locations and distances from each other.
“We have felt the need to chalk out a policy to regulate these mobile phone towers,” Kshatriya had said adding that experts would study the health hazards that radiation from these towers poses.
S.V. Joshi, chief engineer of BMC's Building Proposal department, which grants permissions to mobile phone towers, told Hindustan Times: “We allow mobile towers as per Development Control rules. Telecom companies recognised by the Centre get permission.”