With an aim to regulating the licensing of mobile towers and other telecom-related issues, the government will soon set up district-level telecom committees which will work along with the existing local body-level system for granting licences. A single-window-clearance system will also be implemented to ensure timely disposal of applications.
The telecom infrastructure provider needs to first submit an application before the District Collector, who will refer it to the City Corporation, the Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring Cells (TERM Cell) of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) and the District Medical Officer (DMO).
The company has to pay Rs.5,000 as administrative fee for getting the clearance in addition to the permit fee specified by the Corporation. The permit fee is currently Rs.2 lakh.
The Corporation has to ensure, among other things, the validity of the ownership details of the property or building on which the tower is to be installed. The proposed tower should not be within 500 metres of schools or hospitals, a rule which many existing towers could be violating.
An engineer of the Local Self Government Department or Public Works Department not below the rank of Executive Engineer should certify that the proposed building is safe to erect the tower and allied structures and the design of the base station is in accordance with provisions of the KMBR.
The PCB should check on the noise pollution aspects of the towers and the DMO has to comment on relevant health issues that could crop up. The TERM cell will check whether the power density of the proposed tower is in accordance with the norms of the DoT. If any of the agencies do not furnish their report within 30 days, it will be deemed that the concerned agency has given permission or has no objection.
Single Window Clearance will be given by the District Collector based on the recommendation of the District Telecom Committee. The City Corporation will issue permit for new mobile towers based on the single window clearance and also based on Rule 130 to 142 of the Kerala Municipal Building Rules. The appellate authority in this regard will be the State Level Telecom Committee.
The directive from the government though is silent on the say of the local population with regard to towers in their locality.
In the past years, there have been conflicts between local protest groups against the mobile towers. Two such notable protests happened in 2012 in Palode and another in Peringamala gram panchayat