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Under new law 90% of telecom towers in Bengaluru may turn illegal


BENGALURU: Approximately 90% of telecom towers in the City are installed on buildings that do not have an occupancy certificate. Reason: There was no law making it compulsory for telecom operators to instal towers on buildings with occupancy certificate.

Ten days ago, the law changed. The state government’s new telecom tower policy will render the towers illegal unless it can be established by August 29 that they have been installed on buildings with occupancy certificates. If the telecom operators fail to provide the details, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has threatened to demolish the towers.

Palike commissioner N Manjunath Prasad said: “Tower operators have three months to submit the necessary documents for permission. Chances are that many towers are installed on buildings with less than four floors that do not require an OC,” he said. He added that the Palike will demolish those towers that fail to get the permit within three months. “There is no question of regularising them,” he said Building bye laws mandate OCs for residential and commercial buildings that have four floors or more. There is no data on telecom towers in the city, but going by the self-declaration by operators two and a half years ago, there are about 6,766 telecom towers. Most of them are operated by American Tower Corporation (ATC), Indus Towers, Reliance Jio, Airtel and a few towers by smaller companies. BBMP councillors estimate the number at around 10,000.

The latest regulations make it mandatory for operators to submit a bunch of documents to get approvals from the municipal body and local panchayat (at the village level) before installing towers. Tower operators will have to submit 15 sets of documents, including location plan, site plan, sanction plan, OC, ownership documents, lease agreement and tower drawing, to the authority.

Sources in the Urban Development Department (UDD) said that there was a demand to exclude the mandatory OC when the regulation was being drafted. “Since the tower, too, is a part of the building, it will be wrong to exempt it from OC. So we did not pay heed to the demand,” the source revealed.

The committee that worked on the new policy even contemplated adding a new clause that would allow the urban local bodies to regularise existing towers. The idea was thwarted after some officials convinced the deputy chief minister and the UDD minister that such a provision could be misused.

Manjunath Prasad said that it is too early to say how many towers in Bengaluru will get permission and how many will turn out to be illegal.





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