When RTI query was filed, SMC issued ‘formal’ permission, 2 years after the towers were installed
SRINAGAR: The Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio Infocom was given a particularly warm reception in Kashmir, a query filed under Right To Information (RTI) has revealed. Almost a year after Reliance Jio started 4G services and two years after it installed 20 towers in Srinagar City, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) formally approved these towers and began charging the necessary fees.
What is more, the approval to Reliance’s 4G towers was given a month after an RTI query was filed seeking information about it.
Telecom companies need to secure permission from the civic body for the installation of towers, but Reliance set up its towers at twenty locations within Srinagar city in 2016 and secured a ‘formal’ permission only in September this year, almost a month after the RTI query was filed.
The RTI seeking details from the corporation about the permission given to Reliance was filed on July 31, 2017. The reply to it was dispatched on October 28, with an order to this effect prepared on September 13, 2017. On this same date, the SMC shot off a letter to Reliance Jio charging them fees that amount to Rs 1.6 crore annually.
The SMC’s reply mentions that Reliance Jio has paid an amount of Rs 1,91,8000 as rent, erection fee, and annual renewal fee. Reliance Jio, according to the reply, had asked the SMC to allow erection of towers at 22 locations and a team of officials constituted by the SMC and a revenue committee meeting held in November 2015 was in favour of such installation, but a ‘formal’ order was issued only in September 2017.
Reliance Jio had thus chosen 20 different locations within the municipal city limits and installed its towers at them with no formal order for such construction.
About the structural safety and soil tests carried out by the company before installing its towers, the SMC has not been able to provide any document showing the design calculations or drawings about the structural safety of these towers and, instead, has asked the applicant to seek information from the company.
It has also not provided copies of NOC (no-objection certificate) that it had asked the company to get from the Roads and Buildings department and the police.
The reply mentions, however, that the company has been made accountable for any mishaps and responsible for any consequences.
The reply also mentions that the company has to beautify its towers by placing flower pots around them. The company is to also install street lighting on the towers and ensure their functioning and maintenance.