People in Maharashtra may face problems in telecom connectivity if a lockdown is imposed in the state due to infrastructure companies facing inconvenience from local authorities in rolling out and maintaining networks, industry body TAIPA said on Thursday.
Maharashtra has seen a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases and there were 31,855 fresh cases recorded in the state on Thursday, as per data available on the Aarogya Setu app.
Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association has alleged that various local authorities and municipal corporations are not ready to acknowledge and accept the telecom infrastructure policy dated February 17, 2018, duly notified by the state government in August 2018.
“The situation is very alarming as the infrastructure providers continue to face coercive threats from one municipal corporation or the other each day,” TAIPA Director General T R Dua said.
The body, whose members include companies like Indus Towers, American Tower Corporation and Sterlite Technologies, said the local authorities of the state are still insisting on following their own policies, circulars and resolutions.
This has led to a situation wherein the infrastructure providers are constantly living under threat of coercive action of disconnection and demolition or sealing of the sites, it said.
“We are afraid, it is going to hurt not only the investor’s sentiment but also make the common public life difficult in absence of sound telecom infrastructure which is fundamental to digital services like work from home, remote meeting, e-education etc besides meeting the basic needs of voice and data services,” Dua said.
TAIPA said non-implementation of the policy has led to multiple policies, rules and bye laws.
“Nagpur, Bhivandi Nizampur, Pimpri Chinchwad, MCGM, Mira Bhayender, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan Dombivali have come up with their own circulars and resolutions etc. Concerns are exorbitant fees up to Rs 2 Lakh per tower for regularization and stringent documentation,” TAIPA said.
The industry body said even the 2018 policy of the state has not addressed clauses around regularisation and validity of existing towers.
“This non approval of existing towers leads to coercive action. Property tax is very high and on top of it, Shasti penalty is levied for non-regularised towers by considering them as unauthorised by MCs such as MCGM, Aurangabad, Vasai Virar and MBMC,” it said.