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New telecom regulations in Karnataka to make telecom towers in Bengaluru illegal

January 11, 2019
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The New Telecommunication Infrastructure Regulations, 2015, which are expected to be notified soon for Karnataka, are going to make most of the telecom towers in Bengaluru illegal. Currently, most of the telecom towers in Bengaluru are installed on rooftops of buildings constructed illegally, without a sanctioned plan or an occupancy certificate (OC).

To this end, the new regulations would make these clearances compulsory for buildings housing telecom towers. As a result, the towers installed illegally would become unauthorised. Earlier in February 2016, a draft had been issued, under which it had been proposed to make it mandatory for telecom tower operators to obtain necessary permission from local authorities.

The new regulation proposes to mandate telecom operators to submit documents to the sanctioning authority, which would include location plan, site plan, structural stability certificate, sanction plan, occupancy certificate, ownership document, lease agreement deed and a no-objection certificate from the fire department. Amongst these, the sanction plan and the occupancy certificate are crucial.

Following this, officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and councillors are divided on how to go about with the rooftop telecom towers once the regulations come into force. The civic body estimates the number of telecom towers in Bengaluru to be about 6,700, as per self-declarations made by telecom operators two years ago. Of these, at least 5,500 towers are built on unauthorised or illegal buildings.

The proposed regulation would make it mandatory for tower operators to obtain permission for existing infrastructure from the local authority by paying a registration fee. However, the challenge before the BBMP would be to take a decision on the towers built on illegal buildings.

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