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Movable cellphone towers in New Delhi exploit policy loophole

Telcos have come up with a unique way to keep its users, especially VIPs, connected at all times--placing signal towers on carts and trailers to keep them mobile--allowing them to be moved elsewhere in the event of complaints.
Written by Nitin Puri, Contributor

To ensure better network coverage in Lutyens' Delhi, an upmarket area in New Delhi, telecom operators have resorted to placing mobile towers in parking lots, near clubs and hospitals.

Amid an underlying ban on the installation of towers in the area, there are at least six which appear to be exploiting a loophole by being mobile structures. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has no information on at least six such towers in its area.

Obviously, two thoughts immediately come to mind in regards to moving cellphone towers: both network coverage, and of course, safety. Should safety be compromised just to have network coverage and connection? Furthermore, how can telecom operators be so negligent and allow this in the first place? In the worst case scenario, if a mobile cellphone tower were to drop and both injure people and destroy property, clearly the telecom operators would be held liable and fined.

Although, the Delhi Urban Art Commission forbids installation of cellphone towers in the Lutyens' Bungalow Zone, six towers have come up on municipal land in areas like Safdarjung Enclave, Khan Market, Patiala House, Gole Market, Shanker Market and Chanakyapuri. There is no policy to place these towers outside a building or on council premise nor has permission for installation of these towers been given.

Cell Phone Tower
Cellphone Tower

People familiar with New Delhi will realize these are all area's within South Delhi. In South Delhi, land density is high and the area is already covered with hundreds of fixed cell phone towers on roofs of buildings. In fact, many property owners have made money either renting out roof space or buying a cell phone tower and having it installed. While a popular choice years ago, this is more difficult now as the NDMC has stricter rules regarding cellphone towers. 

According to the NDMC Architect department, the policy for allowing telecom towers in the area is that the structure should be inside a building, on the ground floor, or rooftop. The telecom operators are in clear violation of this policy, as moving cellphone towers are not clearly defined nor covered.

These movable cellphone towers are a becoming nuisance for civic officials. The trick is to keep the structure mobile in case a civic agency objects and issues a fine. Even then, and with the realities of India, would telecom operators be fined, or would officials walk away with a handsome bribe?

Movable mobile towers placed on roads that were formerly with the corporation and were recently transferred have caught official attention.

Now, when the licensing department or enforcement department goes to check these illegal towers, it takes months to find out whose jurisdiction the towers are located in. By then, the companies would have found another place to station them.

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