MCD unwilling to reduce hike in mobile towers licence fee

New Delhi, May 24 (Calcutta Tube) The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Monday told the Delhi High Court that it is not ready to lower the hiked licence fee on the mobile towers in the capital.

Filing a detailed reply explaining the rationale behind the increase in the licence fee, senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for MCD said: ‘Our main concern is to regularise the towers as they are a great health hazard and public at large will suffer.’

The court May 13 restrained MCD from sealing illegal mobile towers till May 24, while asking the civic agency to explain on what grounds the licence fee was hiked.

But Justice Kailash Gambhir did not seem to be impressed by the MCD’s reply, saying: ‘Your reply is not satisfactory and you failed to establish the correlation between the fee hike and the benefits linked to it.’ The court, however, did not pass any orders Monday.

In its reply, MCD stated that the proposal of hiking the fees was taken long back in 2000 but could not be implemented.

‘Not only is health our concern but also the building by-laws are our priority,’ Tripathi added.

Under the revised MCD guidelines unveiled Feb 9, the amount to be paid by a telecom operator to the civic agency for installing a tower has been increased from the present Rs.1 lakh to Rs.5 lakh.

Appearing on behalf of the cellular operators, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi termed the hike ‘totally arbitrary’.

Singhvi contended that since the licence of the cellular operators is valid for 20 years, the licence fee for the towers should also be valid for the same period.

‘The towers’ licence fee earlier was Rs.1 lakh for 20 years which has now been increased to Rs.5 lakh for a period of 5 years. When the MCD increased the fees, did it make any arrangement to increase the facilities attached to the towers,’ Singhvi said.

In the last hearing, the high court also asked the MCD and the cellular operators association to resolve the issue amicably.

There are 5,364 mobile phone towers in MCD’s jurisdiction. Of these, as many as 2,952 have been declared illegal for having come up without the civic agency’s authorisation.

The MCD sealed about 300 towers in the past few months. But 41 were again made operational after the phone companies completed the formalities.

According to the civic agency, mobile operators who have erected towers illegally were given one month’s time to get them regularised. The deadline expired in the first week of May.

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