Haphazard installation of cell towers poses problem

Staff Reporter

New norms make it must to obtain permission of resident welfare associations

Telecom firms found to have installed towers without municipal approval

Their presence in crowded places is hazardous during cyclones

BERHAMPUR: It is alleged that most of the mobile base stations and their towers dotting the city have been erected without seeking proper permission of authorities concerned.

It may be noted that a Public Interest Litigation filed in the Supreme Court has recently forced the Central Government to enact proper guidelines as prescribed by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) regarding the use of mobile phones and base station towers of mobile operators.

This has been done to protect people from harmful radiation. Some 80 mobile towers exist in the city, some of them too near to schools and hospitals.

Their installation in crowded areas, at times, makes one shiver at the thought of the danger they might cause during a cyclone in this costal city, which faced a super cyclone in 1999.

The new guidelines, which are likely to come into force soon, make it mandatory for the telecom companies to seek the approval of resident welfare associations before installing the base station in a residential area.

But the companies are alleged to have not taken permission of the Berhampur Municipality before installing the towers. During the last meeting of the municipal council, it was an astonishing revelation made by municipal officials Replying to a question raised by a councillor, the officials stated that no permission had been granted to any mobile tower in the city. As per the norms, the municipal authorities had to make field verification before allowing construction of a tower in an area.

No role for BDA

The Berhampur Development Authority (BDA), the main institution of city planning, has also not kept track of the sprouting mobile towers all around the city.

According to BDA chairperson Sarat Ranjan Patnaik, as per the gazette notification of the State government on August 16, 2006, the authority to grant licence for construction of mobile towers rests with the local bodies.

He, however, admits that haphazard installation of mobile towers in crowded city limits has started to pose problems for city planners. Even owners of houses who have allowed construction of towers on their premises do not take permission from the BDA as construction of the tower is an alternation of approved plan.

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