Monday, October 28, 2013

Opposed to the state ignoring suggestions from the Centre and local bodies, Deora said

Maharashtra must follow central, BMC cell guidelines on mobile towers: Milind Deora

MUMBAI: Union minister of state for communications Milind Deora has written to the state, asking it to ensure that the new policy on mobile towers doesn't "completely bypass" the guidelines of the Centre and the BMC.

"I urge you to incorporate the department of telecommunications' (DoT) guidelines and the final draft policy of the BMC in the gazette notification of the urban development department," Deora has written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. On October 3, the urban development department issued a notification proposing a new mobile tower policy but unlike the BMC, it did not ask for exclusion of cell towers at schools, colleges and hospitals. It also did not mandate a written consent of 70% occupants of the building before a tower is installed there.

Opposed to the state ignoring suggestions from the Centre and local bodies, Deora said in the letter, "The DoT issued revised guidelines on August 1.... These guidelines were issued to all states based on detailed discussions with stakeholders, including citizens' groups of Mumbai. Based on the same guidelines, the BMC, in consultation with citizens' groups and corporators, issued the final draft policy on September 11. The BMC draft guidelines... covered the finer nuances for an urban city like Mumbai having high population density and high rise buildings."

He further pointed out: "Now I am made to understand that the state seems to be ignoring revised guidelines from the Centre and the civic body. This could send out wrong signals to Mumbaikars and citizens of Maharashtra." Deora also offered any technical advice from DoT if the state required. "There should also be an effective redressal mechanism in the revised guidelines," he said.

But allaying fears of negative effects of mobile radiation, a Cellular Operators Association of India said, "If towers are not allowed on schools, colleges, hospitals and other such buildings, it will adversely affect connectivity. It will lead to call drops and you will not be able to make calls properly." Maintaining that it was "safe" to have cell towers on such buildings, he said, "In some foreign countries, cell towers have been installed on schools and hospitals and there has been no health risk."

Anti-radiation activist Prakash Munshi and actress Juhi Chawla had recently met state officials, who apparently assured them that the suggestions from citizens' groups would be incorporated in the new state policy. "We were promised that the central and civic draft policies will not be overruled. Let us wait and watch," Munshi said.