BBMP sets January 20 deadline for details on mobile towers and OFC

In a first, the civic body has told TSPs to map their towers and OFCs through GIS.

In a first, the civic body has told TSPs to map their towers and OFCs through GIS.   | Photo Credit: V_V_Krishnan


Property owners too will get a notice from the civic body if a mobile tower is found to be illegal

The civic body’s ongoing war against the menace of illegal optic fibre cables (OFCs) and undeclared mobile towers has met with little success. But the latest attempt, however, may be different.

After multiple meetings with stakeholders, the BBMP has set a January 20 deadline for all Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to come clean and declare in an affidavit the number of cables they have laid and mobile towers they have erected.

In a first, they will also have to map their towers and OFCs through GIS.

“Once TSPs submit their affidavits, ward engineers will carry out an extensive on-ground survey and update the GIS map. Anything found undeclared will be treated as BBMP property. In case of illegal mobile towers, we will issue notices to property owners too,” said BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad.

Citizens who have been demanding stringent action against illegal digging of roads are hoping that this time around, the BBMP’s actions will have more bite.

Fee collection

A draft policy by the Urban Development Department (UDD) to regulate mobile towers, published in 2016, set an installation fee of ₹50,000 on each tower, payable to the local civic body. The State government is yet to act on the policy, leaving the BBMP’s hands tied, say civic officials.

In 2017, the BBMP Council adopted a resolution that the civic body must collect the installation fee of ₹50,000, subject to the fee fixed in the policy that is finalised. The then Chairman of the Standing Committee for Taxation and Finance gave TSPs an ultimatum to declare all their mobile towers.

“In response, six firms declared a total of 6,766 mobile towers,” said N. Vijaykumar, chief engineer with the BBMP’s Optic Fibre Cable Cell.

However, the civic body is yet to serve TSPs demand notices for the mobile towers that have been declared.

A senior official said, “TSPs complain that the ₹50,000 one-time installation fee is too high. But, it is ₹2 lakh in Delhi and ₹1 lakh in Haryana.”

Declarations below estimates

“While TSPs declared 6766 towers, our estimates peg the number at over 10,000. These 6,766 towers are also hard to survey. So, we have now asked for GIS-mapped assets. We hope TSPs will come clean and declare all their assets by January 20,” said Mr. Vijaykumar.

While a survey of mobile towers is feasible, BBMP officials are sceptical of their ability to detect undeclared OFCs laid underground.

“All TSPs have declared 8,576 kms of OFCs to date, which we estimate to be a fraction of the actual figure. Even conservative estimates peg the OFC length below the roads at over 25,000 km. But as they are below the surface, we need to figure out a way to detect illegal OFCs,” said Mr. Vijaykumar.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 9:01:10 PM |

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