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Tower operators threaten strike, MCD unfazed

Cell phone users in South Delhi find themselves in the middle of a squabble between the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and telecom operators. HT Correspondent reports.

delhi Updated: May 13, 2010 01:05 IST
Hindustan Times

Cell phone users in South Delhi find themselves in the middle of a squabble between the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and telecom operators.

Because of this, many consumers are facing network problem after the civic agency sealed a total of 227 cell phone towers in the city.

On Wednesday, the civic body sealed 24 towers in South Delhi and has threatened to seal all the remaining 1,532 illegal towers if the operators didn't come forward to regularise them.

But the cell phone tower operators' association has refused to budge and have threatened to go on a nationwide strike, disrupting connectivity across the country.

According to the MCD, of the 5,364 cell phone towers in the city, 2,952 are illegal. The MCD has issued show-cause notices to operators of 1,532 illegal towers.

And if the sealing drive continues, south Delhi would be the worst hit.

The civic body has already sealed 87 towers and served show-cause notices to the operators of another 496 in this zone.

Areas such as CR Park, Alaknanda, Kalkaji, Satya Niketan, Govindpuri, Greater Kailash I, Bhogal among others were worst hit in terms of poor network.

"If the MCD doesn't agree, then we will have no option but to take this step. They are simply dictating terms. We will not pay Rs 5 lakh as installation charges as demanded by the MCD," said KN Srivastava, general secretary of tower and commercial space association.

According to MCD rules, Rs 5 lakh fee has to be paid every five years for a cell phone tower. To resolve the matter, Delhi Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney called a meeting between MCD officials and representatives of telecom operators association on Wednesday. But the telecom operators could not be persuaded to pay the hiked fee. The civic body has decided to continue with the sealing drive.

"They can't take us for a ride. We gave them enough time to regularise the towers. They need to be shown that the MCD can take strict action. We will intensify the sealing drive in the coming days, depending on availability of police force,"said Sawhney.

MCD Commissioner KS Mehra said, "The cell phone towers could be regularised only as per the new norms finalised last month."

On February 9, the MCD came out with a new policy on cell phone towers. According to the revised guidelines, operators will have to Par Rs 5 lakh for installation of a tower. The earlier fee was Rs 1 lakh.

"We are willing to regularise the towers as per the earlier policy. We have moved the court and are hoping to get a stay on the matter,"said Rajan S. Mathews, director general, cellular operators association of India.

He said consumers of Airtel and Vodafone were the most affected in the city.

First Published: May 13, 2010 01:02 IST