The proposed new policy, which was drafted as per the instructions of Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte and is yet to be formally approved has, however, put the onus of taking the stringent step on electricity suppliers — BEST and Reliance. While BEST supplies electricity in the island city, Reliance is responsible for supply in the westerns suburbs.
BEST chairman and Shiv Sena corporator Ashok Patil said, “We are awaiting the list of illegal mobile towers from the BMC. Once we get the detailed list and locations of these towers, we will disconnect the power supply immediately.”
BJP corporator Vinod Shelar, based on whose recommendations the suggestion was included in the draft policy, said, “It is ridiculous for the BMC to say that BEST is not under its purview. BEST is a part of the BMC. As for private companies, even they can’t go ahead with electricity supply unless they get a no-objection certificate from the BMC. They have the power to either cut or supply electricity in a certain place,” he said.
While the civic administration has been lax in taking action against illegal towers — many of which are atop hospitals, schools and colleges, the new guidelines have suggested banning of installation of mobile towers on top of these structures and adjoining buildings. The new draft guidelines also restrict the number of cell towers atop any building to just two. They limit the power transmission from the tower at such sites to two watts per site.
Drawing attention to some cases, where more than 10 towers have been allowed in one building, the BMC has suggested that a direction from the Department of Telecommunication should be sought. “We will be able to take action against those mobile towers after referring the cases to DoT,” said a senior civic official.
The policy has blamed the exorbitant rents paid to landlords and cooperative societies which encourage people to install towers and antennae. “Members from many housing societies have ulterior motives, and agree to have the mobile towers not realising the impact it could have not only on their health but also of others,” said Vinod Shah, member of Peddar Road resident association.
(With inputs from Ananya Banerjee)