The urban development ministry has assured the department of telecommunications that it will amend its recent notification disallowing mobile operators from putting up telecom towers in residential areas falling within the various municipalities of Delhi.
Sources in the government told FE that urban development secretary Rajiv Gauba has informally assured his counterpart JS Deepak in the DoT that he will look into the matter of issuance of a gazette notification by his ministry disallowing putting up the towers in residential areas and do the needful.
Gauba’s assurance came after Deepak wrote to him that as per the government’s allocation of business rules, the matter relating to putting up telecom towers falls within realm of DoT and not urban development ministry, and as such the latter does not have the jurisdiction to issue such notification.
A source said that the notification was issued on March 22 while Gauba took charge on April 1.
“Therefore, his assurance is genuine and the matter will be resolved,” the source added.
The issue of telecom towers is a sensitive one as it is related to call drops. While the government and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India have been training their guns on mobile operators to check the high incidence of call drops, the latter has expressed helplessness to an extent citing lack of cooperation from civic agencies in letting them put up adequate towers.
While the notification concerned was related to Delhi, the fear of DoT and the industry was that following it, civic agencies in other parts of the country may also do the same, which would prove detrimental to mobile services.
In fact, last year in September CEOs of the country’s top six mobile firms had written to the then DoT secretary and Trai chairman about how their efforts at checking call drops was going in vain as municipalities were sealing their towers arbitrarily.
While they thanked the government and the regulator for their commitment to help them in this regard, the immediate trigger for them to write the joint letter was that despite assurances from the government, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had around that time sealed 16 sites in Delhi. About 70 sites were sealed in the last year alone and around 1,700 sites were shut down all over the country.