New Delhi: The nagging call drops and voice breaks that mobile phone users in the capital have to suffer, could soon be a thing of the past. The city’s three big municipal corporations and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) have finally come to an agreement over installation of mobile towers.
The move, once ratified by the high court, will pave the way for new towers and regularisation of illegal ones, which should improve connectivity .
Following the high court’s order to seek the help of a mediation centre to resolve their five-year-old dispute, the two parties have decided to revise the one-time installation charge for erecting cell towers across the capital. Under the agreement, telecom companies will be charged a five-year fee of Rs 2 lakh per tower.
The one-time installation charge was hiked from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh by the erstwhile municipal corporation in 2010, which prompted the telecom companies to move court. The case has been pending since then and thousands of illegal towers have come up across the city. In the high court, telecom firms had blamed the frequent call drops on the corporations’ drive to seal cellular towers.The court had ordered the two parties to resolve their dispute through mediation.
Last year, the three corporations had gone on a sealing drive against all illegal towers in their jurisdiction, which resulted in massive disruption in connectivity .
There are 8,407 mobile towers across the city under the jurisdiction of the three civic bodies of which more than 50% -4,668 towers -are illegal.With the revised policy in place, all these illegal towers will be regularised. Till date, the east corporation has sealed 543 towers, south corporation more than 300 towers and north corporation 127 towers.
The proposal for a revised one-time installation charge will be put up in the standing committee and the report will be submitted in court. A meeting on the matter was held with all stakeholders under the chairmanship of north corporation commissioner, and a draft revised policy was made incorporating the observations made by COAI. The minutes of the meeting stated, “After detailed deliberations, it has been decided that the draft revised policy be placed by the three corporations and after subsequent approval of these corporations, a unified stand be placed before the high court on the next hearing.”
Senior officials said since the matter was in court for five years, the corporations didn’t get any installation fee from telecom companies during this period. “It was decided that telecom companies will pay Rs 1.5 lakh for a period of five years for towers installed from 2010 to 2014, and Rs 2 lakh for towers installed from January 2015 onwards,” said a senior north corporation official.
Source: Times of India