In what seems to be another glaring example of its complacency, the cash-strapped municipal corporation (MC) is losing huge revenue by turning a blind eye to the multiple usage of mobile towers in the city.
As per the state government’s notification dated December 5, 2013, in case a tower is used by more than one user, there will be 50% additional installation charge for each such user for a particular tower.
The one-time installation fee from the original applicant is Rs 50,000. Even as half of the fee is to be charged by MC from each of the additional user on a particular tower, it has not bothered to gather record of such sharing of towers till date.
Replying to an RTI query, the MC revealed said it had sent a letter to all the telecom companies last month to furnish the required sharing details, but none of them has replied so far.
As per a rough estimate, there are around 400 towers in the city and majority of them have multiple users.
Though MC does not have any data on sharing of towers so far, assuming that 50% of the around 400 towers in the city have at least two additional users, the civic body can mop up additional installation charges up to nearly Rs 1 crore, besides Rs 20 lakh of annual user fee
Sources said that during its regular inspections, MC’s building branch department detected many towers being rented out to different telecom companies.
Local RTI activist Davinder Pal Singh said that it was a proven fact in the telecom sector that a single tower was shared by at least 2-3 tenants for optimum utilisation of telecom infrastructure. But two years after the state government policy, the MC did not bother to conduct any survey or carry out inspection at their own level to find out the multiple usage of mobile towers in Patiala, thereby losing huge revenue.
“On one hand, MC often gives excuse that it is short of money for development funds while on the other, it does not bother to increase its revenue. If they work sincerely, their overall telecom revenue can shoot up to the tune of Rs 2 crore, which can be used for repairing broken roads, he added.
LOSS OF ANNUAL FEE TOO
By ignoring the multiple usage of telecom towers, the MC not only incurs loss on account of one-time installation charges but also fails to collect Rs 10,000 annual charges, which are to be paid by every user, whether the tower is owned by it or it is on rent.
When contacted, MC town planner Nirmal Singh claimed that no proper survey had been conducted so for to ascertain the number of towers being used by multiple users.
He, however, said they would soon send another reminder to all the telecom companies, asking them to submit sharing details of their towers. “We will also not hesitate in cracking a whip, including sealing of towers, if details are not provided to us at the earliest,” he added
He added that the revenue of the MC would certainly jump if all the telecom companies paid charges for the shared towers.
Joint commissioner Nazar Singh said some time ago, the MC had planned to get a survey conducted from a technical agency to get details of sharing users on towers, but the matter could not be aggressively pursued. But now it would certainly be taken on priority, as the telecom companies were not coming forward to share details on their own, he added
Promising quick action, mayor Amarinder Singh said, “I will look into the matter tomorrow only and direct the MC commissioner to start gathering these details. We will make all telecom companies to pay the dues to the corporation.”