Staff Reporter

24 towers sealed in the Capital's Central and South zones in a single day

NEW DELHI: Following expiry of the one-month deadline given to mobile phone operators to get their illegal towers regularised, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on Wednesday began sealing action in the Capital's Central and South zones. A total of 24 towers were sealed in the two zones during the day.

The civic body had given mobile phone operators a month's time to get their illegal towers regularised by paying a regularisation fee of Rs.5 lakh as stipulated under the new policy that came into effect in April. However, mobile phone operators have been protesting against the steep increase in regularisation fee from Rs.1 lakh earlier to Rs. 5 lakh now.

The areas where towers were sealed on Wednesday include Chittaranjan Park, Govindpuri, Bhogal, Kalkaji, Anand Niketan, Satya Niketan and Shahpur Jat among others. Sealing action could not be carried out in some of the other zones as police force was not available.

So far over 300 towers have been sealed by the MCD in its area and it has threatened to seal all the remaining 1,532 illegal towers if the operators did not come forward to regularise them. According to the MCD, of the 5,364 towers in the city, 2,952 are illegal and show-cause notices have been issued to 1,532.

While the MCD has decided to continue with its sealing drive in the coming days, mobile phone operators, who had filed a petition in the Delhi High Court on Tuesday for a stay on the sealing order, are optimistic that the court would give a decision in their favour when the matter comes up for hearing on Thursday.

Asked about the impact of the sealing on mobile phone connectivity, Cellular Operators' Association of India director general R. S. Mathew said: “If the stay order from the High Court does not come through on Thursday, major areas of Delhi could be affected. The MCD has gone ahead with the sealing exercise and we are still assessing the impact as infrastructure operations are shared.”

A common sentiment shared by several mobile phone operators is that those who had applied for regularisation before the new policy came into force should be given relief and allowed to regularise after paying the previous regularisation fee of Rs.1 lakh.

To resolve the impasse, Delhi Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney had called a meeting of civic body officials and mobile phone operators on Wednesday. However, the meeting was not successful in persuading the telecom operators to pay up the hiked fee.

“We gave them enough time to regularise their towers. They need to be shown that the MCD can take strict action,” added Mr. Sawhney.

MCD Commissioner K. S. Mehra said the towers can only be regularised as per the new norms finalised last month.