The Hans India: Hyderabad: Thursday, February 09, 2017.
A major scam in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has come to light. The corporation officials have been turning a blind eye to over 6,000 cell towers which have come up illegally leading to heavy revenue loss.
The corporation had given permission to erect cell towers to various telecom companies. GHMC sources said that the ground-level staff who are hand in glove with the telecom operators have been collecting less amount than what was originally fixed.
As per GO No 380, the GHMC should collect Rs 1 lakh per tower. But they have been collecting only Rs 10,000 per tower leading to a loss of Rs 50 crore.
According to RTI information, the GHMC town planning wing had given permission for only 969 towers and that there was no information about illegal cell towers.
Reacting to it, M Srinivas, secretary CPI(M), Greater Hyderabad Central City Committee, told The Hans India that there are more than 6,000 illegal towers for which there has been no accountability.
These towers have been erected in busy residential areas exposing people to the ill effects of radiation. He said the BSNL had officially stated that it has 967 towers in Hyderabad circle of which 477 are their own towers and 490 were on sharing basis.
Another 201 towers are in Ranga Reddy circle. GTL Infrastructure had 119 towers by 2014 but the GHMC does not have any information about these towers, Srinivas said.
According to him, if the GHMC collects revised property tax for the accounted cell towers the corporation could generate Rs 50 crore but instead GHMC is collecting property tax at the old rates which is Rs 4.38 crore per year.
If measures are taken to bring the illegal towers also into the tax net, then the corporation could mop up another Rs 50 crore as property tax.
M Padmnabha Reddy, secretary Forum for Good Governance, said that if GHMC considers the cell towers as a source of revenue generation, they should immediately get the stay vacated and bring unaccounted cell towers also into the tax net.
The cell towers are visible and the GHMC cannot say that they are not aware of illegal towers.
When queried about the same, a senior GHMC official, who does not want to be quoted, said that they would inquire in to the matter and stringent action would be taken against the officials if found guilty.
He also said that the corporation would collect 100 per cent penalty from telecom operators after conducting a comprehensive survey on cell towers.