The government of India has issued guidelines to help promptly settle issues about the installation of cell phone towers at and near airports.
A letter dated 12 January from LD Meghwal, Senior Deputy Wireless Adviser at the Department of Telecommunications, written to the AAI general manager and JCES director claimed that if applications seeking approvals pending with the Joint Communications and Electronic Staff (JCES) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and are not dealt within 30 days of submission, they will be considered cleared.
According to the Economic Times, a copy of the letter was sent to the chief secretaries of the states and union territories where such approvals are waiting. A copy was sent to the secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation as well.
The clearance shall contain the following condition, “The physical construction of the tower shall not be initiated before the 16th day of the granting of permission,” the letter stated, according to the report.
SACFA took initiatives to speed up the process
The Standing Advisory Committee on Radio Frequency Allocations (SACFA) had taken initiatives to shorten the certification process for installing mobile towers, including self-declaration based, automated time-bound approvals. The SACFA, which includes members from both AAI and JCES, must approve the height and location of each tower that a telecom operator wants to erect anywhere.
According to Meghwal, the AAI, which is in charge of a large number of approvals, added 121 non-licensed state-government-controlled airports to the protected list in 2015, but the number is now down to 97.
"On the other hand, they are exhibiting their incompetence to deal with the ongoing lawsuits involving these airports," he said. He went on to note that the 97 airports are spread out among 23 states and federal territories.
According to Meghwal, the time it takes to obtain licences is hindering the implementation and expansion of telecom networks and the spread of broadband, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
The letter further stated that if an airstrip or airport does not have the necessary licences or approvals from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation or the AAI, the SACFA siting clearance system will not recognise it.