According to reports, telecom Minister Kapil Sibal today said he will call a meeting of tower companies and relevant ministers in state governments to sort out the issue of various charges imposed on towers.
“I intend to call all relevant ministers in the state governments to have a meeting with you all telecom tower firms,” Sibal said.
He was responding to the issues raised by Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) President Akhil Gupta who said telecom tower companies are being looked at as cash cows by various authorities.
“No day passes when we do not receive some strange demand on annual fees, municipal tax or others,” Gupta said.
“The fact is that today most members of this association, who run tower companies have negative return on capital and those who have positive is only nominal one,” Gupta said.
Sibal said he was pushing for infrastructure status to telecom towers that will help the companies get bank loans easily.
“Tower sector should be treated by the government Of India as infrastructure. If you have 4 lakh towers in this country and you are at cusp of setting many more…I dont think industry itself can raise resources unless we treat it as infrastructure,” Sibal said.
However, the minister did not take up the request that tower and infrastructure companies should not be compelled to use renewable energy sources.
“In the next Plan period target is going to be 100,000 MW power generation capacity and we hope to achieve that. In the absence of it we have no choice. May be the capex will be more but in the long run it solar energy will be greener and cheaper,” Sibal said.
The minister said he will initiate discussions with Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Renewable Energy and industry players to find a solution for reducing capital cost of solar panel.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended that the total power consumption of each Base Tower Station (BTS) will not exceed 500W by the year 2020 which is estimated to be between 3 to 4 Kilowatt at present.
The regulator has proposed various method of reducing the energy consumption at telecom towers which is under consideration by the Department of Telecommunications under new telecom policy.