BTS towers get green light from government


Environment Protection Department, Punjab has geared up to finalize standard rules for BTS towers as per National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) to resolve the current issues that telecom sector is confronting due to installation of BTS Towers.
This was revealed in a meeting held by Secretary Environment Punjab, Saeed Wahlah, on current legislative frame work and future prospects for BTS towers held at the head office of Environment Protection Department, Punjab on Wednesday.
The agenda for the meeting was to discuss the issues that telecom sector as well as EPD was confronting due to absence of rules for BTS Tower and Gen Set installations. Representatives from Mobilink, Zong, Telenor and Warid participated in the meeting while the senior officials of EPD were also present in the meeting to discuss the said issue.
BTS or Base Transceiver Stations gained prominent attention with the rapid growth in the cellular company. Pakistan had become the fifth largest mobile phone consumers with its number of users reaching 111 million and still increasing. Having such a growth is bound to have consequences.
The issue of BTS towers has persisted for quite a long time now. In the past, Chief Minister of Punjab approved the establishment of various committees to examine the issues and various guidelines were issued for safe installation of BTS Towers. In 2012 the Government of Punjab imposed a ban on the installation of BTS Towers in residential areas to overcome the health and environmental threats that they might cause in populated localities.
Secretary EPD, Saeed Iqbal, emphasized the need to define the domains for licensing different government departments. In BTS towers, the EPD department specifically deals with the generators only as policy. Saeed said that companies must have to follow the basic standards as described in NEQS to control the noise, smoke and vibration element.
It was also suggested in the meeting that generator should be installed at a distance of 100 meters from hospital, schools and other silent zones while the distance in residential area should be at least 20 feet. It was also recommended that any generator installed along the BTS should have proper Canopy containing sound proof silencers to control noise emission not exceed 65 dB(A).
He said that the process of Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) had been simplified now which means the proponents can themselves send an IEE report to the EPA.
Keeping in view the growing demand of BTS tower installation, Saeed made few recommendations. Saeed suggested that prior to installing a BTS Tower; the proponent should be legally bound to acquire permits from the PTA, Municipal Authorities and EPA. The companies should also make sure that in case of any incident; they would bear the losses and make full compensations to the residents.