SDMC to issue show-cause notice to illegal cell phone tower operators
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) will soon start issuing show-cause notices to mobile network service providers who have installed cellular towers without paying licence fees.
Nearly half of all such towers in south Delhi areas like Greater Kailash, Defence Colony, Nehru Place, Lajpat Nagar, Tughlakabad and Dwarka, among others, have come up without SDMC approval. They are supposed to pay Rs 2 lakh to the SDMC to operate a tower for five years as per a Delhi High Court order of January 2017, the civic body officials said.
Some of these towers could be seven to eight years old and the corporation may have lost out on revenue to the tune of Rs 20-25 crore, SDMC officials said. They have now asked the network service provider companies to furnish the entire list of their towers along with geo-coordinates of the same. The junior engineers of the corporation are doing site inspections verifying them against the list.
After the standing committee chairperson of SDMC, Bhupinder Gupta, ordered for a “ward-wise survey of these towers” on July 23, deputy commissioners of the four zones of the civic body submitted their data on Monday. It turned out that of the total 4,324 cell phone tower operators in south Delhi, only 2,217 are authorised and have paid the licence fees, while 2,107 tower operators haven’t.
Gupta said, “SDMC is already heavily cash-strapped and we cannot give away our revenue like this.” A senior official of SDMC, though, said that the delay in identifying cell phone towers has been due to lack of monitoring staff. “The Department of Telecom, central government, already has details of all these towers and the precise date and time they are started sending out signals.”
“The only problem is that we have very few junior engineers, who have multiple tasks to do including election-time duties, and therefore, this on-the-ground mapping could not be done earlier,” he said.
Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI), did not reply to repeated calls and text messages.