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Council orders removal of illegal towers

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FACING COUNCIL’S IRE: A tower erected by a telecom service provider in the city. —
FACING COUNCIL’S IRE: A tower erected by a telecom service provider in the city. —

Staff Reporter

Flays officials for granting permission to erect telecom towers

KOCHI: All the unauthorised mobile telephone towers and telecommunication cables drawn along the city roads should be removed within a week, the Kochi Corporation Council has decided.

Kochi Mayor Mercy Williams announced the decision at the council meeting and directed the Town Planning Officer to implement the decision without fail.

Earlier, several civic councillors including the Deputy Mayor C. K. Manisankar and Town Planning Standing Committee chairman E.M. Sunilkumar complained that the officials including the Town Planning Officer were not implementing the directives of the Council.

Mr. Manisankar said that the Town Planning Officer remained nonchalant despite large number of complaints reaching him. Some of the Corporation officials were even extending undue help to private telecom operators regarding the towers and causing revenue loss to the civic body, he said.

The councillors complained that a large number of mobile telephone towers have mushroomed in the city flouting all norms. Towers were even erected at residential areas, they said.

A.B. Sabu, the UDF leader in the Council, said that a private telecom operator had erected 36 towers in the city overnight without obtaining the permission of the Kochi Corporation. The officials and some political leaders were abetting the telecom operators in setting up towers illegally. There were 96 such unauthorised towers in the city and no action was being initiated against them, he said.

Suspension

“If we keep on suspending officials, the ultimate result will be the reduction of staff strength,” said Kochi Mayor Mercy Williams.

The vulnerability of the civic administration in handling erring officials was exposed at the council meeting on Wednesday when it discussed the issue of illegally-erected telecom towers.

“We had earlier suspended several officials from the service. Let us pardon the erring officials one more time,” pleaded the mayor with the council which demanded disciplinary action.

The Opposition councillors jeered some of the civic administrators who complained in the council that the officials were refusing to implement the directives of the council. If the civic administrators are complaining in the council about the officials, then who will control them, asked some councillors.

The police were usurping the rights of the Kochi Corporation and auctioning the rights to display advertisement boards in some segments of the Sahodaran Ayyappan road.

The Corporation could not even remove the signboard erected by the Police at the Kerala High Court junction, he said.

Mr. Sunilkumar said that no application seeking permission for setting up towers has reached the Town Planning Committee for the last 6 months. However, nearly 100 applications were received at the Department. Three meetings of the officials of the Corporation were convened during the past weeks to act on the issue of unauthorised towers and cables. However, no action seemed to have been initiated at the official level, he said. He also complained that unauthorised billboards were displayed in many cinema halls and city centres.

Most of the cinema halls were also not operating the air conditioners during the cinema time, he said.

The Town Planning Officer explained at the council that action has been taken against some illegal towers in Vyttila, and Edapally sectors.

Development Standing Committee Chairman K. J. Sohan suggested that the directives of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indian regarding the sharing of telecom towers should be sought.

Works Standing Committee chairman M. Anilkumar, corporation councillors K. J. Antony, T. J. Vinod, Johnson Master, K. M. Hamsakunju and Shyamala S. Prabhu were among those who took part in the discussion.

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