Thursday, 18 April 2013

BDA to Crack Whip on Owners Over Land-Use Violation

BDA commissioner directs town planning dept officials to evaluate land-use violations with respect to mobile phone towers

The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is all set to crack the whip against house owners who have rented out their terraces for mobile towers without obtaining conversion certificates for commercial activities.

This is the first time that some authority is making an effort to rein in the multi-crore mobile-towers’ business in the city. Though there is no specific data on the number of mobile towers across the city, telecom industry sources maintain that there are around 1.25 lakh towers (each weighing anywhere between 3-10 tons) and a majority of these are located in residential areas.

This is in contravention to the BDA rules which mandate house owners to take permission from the BDA to change of land use from residential to commercial if towers are to be installed on their land.

BDA Commissioner T Sham Bhatt issued a directive to town planning department officials to evaluate the land-use violations with respect to mobile phone towers and submit a detailed report.

The commissioner’s directive states: “BDA has been allotting sites to people for residential purposes in various layouts across the city. However, there have been complaints that the beneficiaries have been diverting the same sites for commercial activities like setting up of mobile towers without obtaining land conversion certificate from the jurisdictional development authority. People have also complained about serious ill effects caused by such towers. Hence, I direct all the engineer members of BDA to conduct a detailed inquiry into the issue.”

While BBMP’s control was only to collect various taxes from these layouts, the BDA has retained powers of granting land utilisation and conversion licenses. But in several cases many people appear to be ignorant of these facts and have allowed companies to set up towers atop their houses.

Some RTI activists stated that the BDA (Allotment of Sites) Rules, 1984, clearly say that land in these layouts is allotted only for residential purposes and should not be diverted to commercial activities. Despite these provisions in the act, several site and house owners, without obtaining land conversion certificates from BDA have gone ahead and rented their premises to cellular companies to erect towers.

Despite these gross violations by buildings owners, BDA officials have failed to act. Further, these owners are hardly aware of the health hazards caused by these towers. The concrete roof of any RCC building would be just six inches thick and cannot withstand such huge loads, when you factor in the constant vibration of generator units placed at the foot of these towers. Some towers are placed on buildings more than 25years old. What if these buildings succumb to these constant vibrations?”

According to vaastu beliefs, a house owner gains wealth if he places a heavy object at the south-west. Hence many construct a single room or an over-head water tank in that direction.

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