NEW DELHI: All cellphone lines to this route may soon be “not reachable” in the posh Lutyens’ Delhi. High-profile residents of the area, including diplomats in the Pakistan High Commission, might face a mobile connectivity crisis. Civic agency New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has decided to take down illegal Cell on Wheels (CoW) towers placed strategically and liberally on public land in the high-security zone.
According to an internal report by the sub-committee constituting vigilance, architecture and fire department officials, of the 72 CoWs in the area, 49 are illegal. The towers belong to Reliance Communications—whose licence for renewal has been accepted—and Vodafone and Airtel cellular.
“We are taking action against these illegal towers. Connectivity might be affected, but the companies should pay up. They were using our electricity for free,” said an NDMC Enforcement Department official.
Some of the illegal CoW towers are near the Pakistan Embassy, Tamil Nadu Bhawan, Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, Railway Colony on San Martin Marg, and Delhi Art & Commerce College in Netaji Nagar.
The report says an FIR will be lodged after removing the towers and penalty will be levied on the operators. It also highlights that only 23 CoWs have appropriate licence to operate.
“If these stations are removed in an arbitrary manner, it will only interrupt the connectivity in the concerned areas... These temporary sites are critical to provide uninterrupted services to the subscribers in mobile connectivity starved areas falling under NDMC,” said Rajan S Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents telecom companies.
Industry sources said many senior ministers and a Supreme Court judge raised the connectivity issue in the area two years ago, after which the mobile network companies installed the towers.