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No more sealing of cell phone towers: MCD

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CIOL Bureau
New Update

NEW DELHI, INDIA: In a breather for cell phone operators, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Thursday informed the Delhi High Court that it will not seal illegal mobile phone towers in the capital till further orders.

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Justice Kailash Gambhir was informed by MCD officials that they will stop the sealing drive against illegal mobile towers launched Wednesday.

The court issued notice to the MCD asking it to explain by May 19 the reasons behind bringing in a new policy on the issue of regulating mobile towers.

Under the revised MCD guidelines unveiled Feb 9, the amount to be paid by a telecom operator to the civic agency for installing a tower has been increased from the present Rs.1 lakh to Rs.5 lakh.

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Directing the MCD and the Cellular Operators Association (COA) to resolve their differences, the court said: "It is a pubic interest matter and should be resolved immediately."

The COA moved the court alleging that the sealing drive launched by the MCD was illegal.

The civic agency had no power to act against the operators as the Indian Telegraph Act vested the power to do so with the central government, the COA said.

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Appearing for COA, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Sighvi said, "Hiking licence fee from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.5 lakh is arbitrary. The MCD did not have any power to seal the towers and it is an illegal move."

Sighvi said, "The MCD can only collect tax and building and land charges (from operators). It is only the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that has the power to seal the towers and not the MCD."

MCD counsel Maninder Acharya said the MCD started the drive keeping in mind health aspects. He said radiation from the illegal towers was bad for public health.

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The MCD started sealing illegal mobile phone towers Wednesday (May 12). The action was initiated after a deadline set for the telecom operators to pay the hiked licence fee and get the illegal towers regularised expired last week.

The MCD Wednesday sealed 24 illegal mobile towers. There are 5,364 towers in areas under the MCD's jurisdiction. Of these, as many as 2,952 have been declared illegal as these have come up without the civic agency's authorisation.

The MCD informed the court that as part of its routine checks before the special drive launched Wednesday, it sealed about 300 towers in the past few months. Of these, 41 towers were made operational after the telecom companies completed the license formalities.

Under the special drive, the MCD reportedly decided to seal at least 60 towers within a week, five each in all the 12 municipal zones in the city.

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