The Department of Telecom (DoT) has made it clear that it will not relax the environmental norms set for the sector, which include reducing carbon emission, and switching to energy-efficient telecom towers, despite repeated request from telcos.
In a communication to the various telecom associations, DoT said though it was open to dialogue and discussions, “the green technologies in the telecom sector have already been defined… any discussion in this regard with DoT shall not justify any delay or dilution of the implementation timeline.”
According to DoT’s directives, at least 50 per cent of all rural towers and 20 per cent of the urban ones are to run on hybrid power (renewable energy technology or grid power) by 2015, while 75 per cent of rural towers and 33 per cent of urban towers are to be run on hybrid power by 2020.
Besides, service providers should aim at carbon emission reduction targets for their mobile network of five per cent by 2012-13 and 17 per cent by 2018-19.
With eroding margins and increasing competition, the sector is already under financial stress. The recent judgment of the Supreme Court in cancelling 122 telecom licences has put an additional burden on those affected.
Under such circumstances, the telecom operators as well as tower companies had requested the government to look at the feasible business case for using different technologies for implementing the green norms.
Industry bodies representing the sector including Cellular Operators Association of India, Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India and Tower and Providers Association had requested that a committee be constituted to work towards promoting implementation of DoT’s green norms. The committee could have members from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), DoT, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and industry representatives, they asked.
However, DoT feels since Trai arrived at the recommendations after consultation with all stakeholders, the norms should not be diluted. It added both Trai and DoT had followed due process before issue of the directions for implementation of green technologies in the sector. The sector came under the green scanner after protests by non-profit organisations claiming telecom service providers were polluting the environment.