In a major development in the telecom sector in Kerala, the state government has constituted state and district-level telecom committees to review and monitor all matters related to telecom infrastructure in the state.
The government has assigned the IT Department as the nodal department in the state for matters related to attaining clearance for the installation of mobile towers. Moving forward, telecom companies have to approach the district telecom committees to get the clearance for erecting mobile towers in the state.
The state-level telecom committee comprises of Chief Secretary (chairman), Secretaries of IT, PWD, Home, Health, LSG, Revenue and Environment departments, State Pollution Control Board chairman, Health Services Director, Deputy Director General of Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) Cell in Kerala, BSNL state head and state heads of all telecom/infrastructure service providers.
Whereas the chairman of the district telecom committees will be the respective District Collectors. Deputy Collector, Superintendent of Police, District Medical Officer, PWD Roads and Buildings executive engineers, district panchayat secretary, Pollution Control Board district officer, TERM cell representative, BSNL district head and district heads of all telecom/infrastructure service providers are the other members.
“The move will help to rearrange mobile towers in the state. The committees will help to resolve issues in connection with the setting up of towers in locations across the state. Henceforth, companies will have face more scrutiny before they get permission to install telecom infrastructure facilities,” said Prem Nair, Legal Officer, Indus Towers, one of the largest mobile tower companies in the state.
As per the government order, single-window clearance will be given by the District Collector concerned, based on the recommendation of the district telecom committee. The state telecom committee will be the appellate authority in the matter.
“District telecom committee can decline the proposal if irregularities are found. The companies can then approach the state-level committee for approval and the decision of the state-level body would be final,” the order said. As per the order, no mobile towers will be permitted within 500 metres of schools/hospitals.
Despite the clause about increased scrutiny, telecom service providers have generally welcomed the new system.
“Even after getting permission from the local authority, mobile companies have to face severe protest from the residents. With the new mechanism, we hope such issues will become a thing of the past,” ” said a top official of a telecom service provider.