Illegal mobile towers remain on roof-tops in the city despite a 2015 law and a 2019 amendment.
Around 6,670 mobile towers in Bengaluru are not complying with the New Telecommunication Infrastructure Towers Regulations 2015. Although the rule is in place since 2016, tenants said no action has been taken on any illegal towers in the city.
The Karnataka Installation of New Telecommunication Infrastructure Towers Regulations states, “In residential areas, Telecommunication Infrastructure Towers shall be located in open spaces or community buildings in the locality.” It also stated that mobile towers should not be erected over residential buildings without proper license from the concerned authorities. It gives powers to the Commissioners of the corporation and the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) to take action against the illegally constructed towers.
Chandru, a tenant in a flat with roof-tower in Kumbalgodu said that he knows about the radiation from the roof towers affecting pregnant women and children. He added that the landlord rented the roof because he wasn’t aware of the radiation but when informed him, he continued to let them out for rent.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) information officer, Chandran said that they are not responsible for implementing the rules rather the responsibility lies with the local authorities or the union department of telecommunication.
However, the TRAI Recommendations on Telecommunications Infrastructure Policy states, “Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC) in consultation with the standardization body should develop standards for all types of towers in telecommunications in a time-bound manner. These standards should be made mandatory for all service providers.”
Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) of DOT has audited 10,760 towers since 2014 in Karnataka and found all in compliance with the law. However, the TERM only calculates the frequency rate of the microwaves but not the tower’s legal compliance with the state’s rules on erection and maintenance.
The Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976, under the precautions in case of dangerous structures chapter states, “If in the Commissioner’s opinion the said structure is imminently dangerous to the inmates thereof, the Commissioner shall order the immediate evacuation thereof and any persons disobeying may be removed by any police officer.”
Ragavendra Prasad, joint Director in the Town Planning department of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagare Palika (BBMP) said that they are not responsible for providing licenses to mobile towers or take action when it goes against the law.
He added that the eight circle offices are individually responsible for offering licenses and taking action against them. The zonal offices are in East, West, South, RR Nagara, Dasarahalli, Yelahanka, Bommanahalli and Mahadevapura. However, the circle offices said the BBMP head office was responsible.
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report states, “IARC classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic field as possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
International Journal of Radiology & Radiation Therapy report states, “Non-thermal effects of Radiofrequency pollution expand across time and the hazards are more noticeable after 8 to 10 years of expression. This indicates that the body identifies these electromagnetic radiations as a potential harm.”
Kumaresan, Assistant General Manager at the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) said that there have been no problems raised with the BSNL towers. He added, “The government does not even have enough funds to pay the BSNL employees, where does it install new towers? BSNL has 1400 towers in Bangalore since 2016.” He added that Airtel has around 4000 towers, Jio has over 8000 towers and BSNL has 1400 towers.