Telecom operators continue to face problems in installing mobile towers in states due to tough rules being imposed on them which are also not aligned with central government norms, industry body TAIPA said today. “Except five states — Haryana, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Kerala and Odisha — none of the states have aligned their Right of Way rules for telecom infrastructure with that of the Department of Telecom (DoT). “This is creating huge impediments in installation of mobile towers and in turn affecting quality of service,” Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) Director General Tilak Raj Dua told PTI. The DoT had issued a RoW (Right of Way) policy in November 2016 which provides for no restriction on location of telecom towers, single window clearance mechanism, defined time-period for approvals, appointment of nodal officers, nominal administrative fees and deemed approval, extensively supporting the Digital India mission. Dua said mobile tower firms are facing major problems in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra. “Some state governments have given us the opportunity to express our view but some don’t give us any chance. If (more) mobile towers are installed then call quality will increase in these states. “The action by states will hinder government’s visionary flagship program of Digital India, Smart Cities and financial inclusion,” Dua said.
TAIPA, whose members include Bharti Infratel, ATC Towers, GTL Infrastructure, Reliance Infratel, Indus Towers and Tower Vision, said the industry players have been taking up their issues with the Punjab government since 2013, Himachal and Maharashtra since 2014 and with Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat governments since 2015 but there has been no resolution. Dua said the draft policy of Madhya Pradesh is pending for notification since 2015 and imposes multiple fee levies of up to Rs 1 lakh, restricts location of towers and mast height, offers limited government lands, lacks single window clearance and provides permission only for five years. “The draft of MP policy eventually hinders the momentum of tower installation across the state,” Dua said. He said Gujarat’s policy focuses on installation of towers only for 4G technology rather than the holistic development of telecom infrastructure.
Dua said that even the existing 4G policy of Gujarat imposes multiple levies like annual renewal fee, security deposit, one-time charges for telecom infrastructure installation and escalation of annual fee by 10 percent after every three years. “Additionally, the policy imposes exorbitantly high charges for laying optical fibre cable (OFC) ranging from Rs 1,000-1,500 per running meter which amounts to Rs 10 lakh per kilometre while the charges prescribed under the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (RoW) is Rs 1,000 per km for laying OFC and Rs 10,000 for deploying telecom towers,” Dua said.