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TMCNet:  Activists ask BMC to slap trade law on cell operators if service is cut [Mumbai] [Times of India]

[December 30, 2013]

Activists ask BMC to slap trade law on cell operators if service is cut [Mumbai] [Times of India]

(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MUMBAI: Anti-radiation activists have taken umbrage at cellular operators' threat to shut down all illegal cellphone towers in Mumbai. They are planning to put pressure on the BMC to take action against the operators under the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Act if cellular services are hit because of a shutdown. Nearly 75% of cellphone towers in Mumbai have been declared illegal by the BMC, which published a list of their location on its website on Monday. Subsequently, major cellular operators threatened to shut down the 3,618 mobile towers that were declared illegal on December 30 or on any day in the first week of January. If they act on the threat, cellphone connectivity across the city will be crippled. Anti-radiation activist Prakash Munshi said, "This is uncalled for. We are protesting against the radiation levels of cell towers and are not against the use of mobile phones. Mobile operators should come up with solutions to problems and not shy away from them." He said he was completely against 3,618 cell towers being shut down together. Warning operators from issuing such "arrogant threats", he said, "We will urge the BMC to take action under the MRTP Act. We will also explore other ways to oppose the move in the general interest of lakhs of citizens using mobile phones." Sources said that activists may lodge a complaint with the department of telecommunications on the issue. They hinted that citizens' groups may move court in case the operators go ahead and act on their threat. Another activist alleged that a section of mobile operators were trying to be high-handed due to their strong lobby in the trade. Activist Nikhil Desai said the illegality of cell towers will not be tolerated by any Mumbaikar. "They need to find a solution to rectify the problem or illegality and also ensure that radiation levels are low for citizens staying in the vicinity of the towers. They cannot issue threats of shutting down a large number of cell towers in Mumbai and inconvenience citizens." A source close to the Cellular Operators Association of India told TOI, "The threat is justified. The MRTP Act will certainly not apply in this case. Activists like Munshi should realize that these towers have already been declared illegal. A majority of cellular operators have threatened to simply shut down those that have been deemed illegal by the civic body. They have not said that all cell towers will be shut down." So, sources said, neither the BMC nor the government can take action; also, no one can complain before the MRTP commission. According to the BMC list, there are 1,158 legal cell towers in the city. The maximum number of illegal towers, 342, are in Borivli. Desai said the BMC should take the threats seriously and act in the interest of citizens.

(c) 2013 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited

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