MUMBAI: Telecom tower operators say Maharashtra’s policy for towers is not aligned with that of the telecom department and it is impeding rollout of key infrastructure in the state. Industry body Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) alleged that Pune Municipal Corporation and Bombay Municipal Corporation follow their own guidelines and their coercive action hurts operation and service quality.
“Due to a lack of a comprehensive uniform tower policy for the state, the local municipal bodies such as Pune Municipal Corporation and Bombay Municipal Corporation follow their own guidelines and initiate suo-moto coercive action, such as sealing of mobile towers and disconnecting electricity supply for mobile towers,“ said TR Dua, director-general of TAIPA.
“Aligning the (Maharashtra tower) policy with the Right of Way Rules would lead to a faster roll-out of telecom infrastructure, facilitating the socio-economic growth and inclusive development.“ On December 21, authorities in Pune had served notices to tower companies for failing to pay about ` 332 crore in property tax after a Supreme Court ruling earlier in the month.
According to some executives, Pune Municipal Corporation sealed the control rooms of various tower companies, making the tower bases unviable and resulting in quality of service. The offices were unsealed only after a few days, they said.
Maharashtra has about 100 million telecommunication subscribers and close to 36,000 mobile towers. The Supreme Court had directed tower companies to approach the High Court of Bombay for clarification on quantification and periodicity of the tax to be levied. The issue is pending adjudication.
A tower industry executive said such intervention by local bodies, despite an overarching department of telecommunication policy that allows easy set up and maintenance of towers, is “retrograde and regressive“.
Officials at Pune Municipal Corporation told ET that the offices were sealed for non-payment of dues.However, those at Bombay Municipal Corporation declined to comment on the matter.
Maharashtra Tower Policy , notified on March 4, 2014, imposes certain restrictions on tower companies such as demanding written consent of 70% of total number of legal occupants of the apartment before erecting mobile towers in residential areas, and requires multiple charges ranging from `10,000 to `50,000 and NoCs which, TAIPA representatives allege, are not in line with DoT guidelines dated August 1, 2013.