Will PMC 'Regularize' 7440 KM of Unauthorized Cables in Storm Drains?

Survey revealed 7440 km of cables belonging to various mobile and internet companies, but no further action was taken against the companies.
File photo: Drain cleaning work by PMC
File photo: Drain cleaning work by PMC

Pune: Unauthorized underground cables in the city are causing significant visual pollution, while underground cables laid through storm drains have recently led to citywide flooding, as experienced by Pune residents last month.

Following the revelation of this issue, there was a brief crackdown on unauthorized cables. However, this action has now slowed, and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is attempting to 'regularize' these cables in storm drains.

Various types of cables, including those for the internet, mobile services, and TV, are being laid both underground and overhead in the city. According to government regulations, overhead cables are prohibited due to the risk of accidents and the resulting visual pollution.

Additionally, the PMC is losing revenue due to these unauthorized cables. Three years ago, PMC had a survey conducted by M/s Era Teleinfra Pvt. Ltd. to assess the overhead cables in the city.

The survey revealed 7,440 kilometers of cables belonging to various mobile and internet companies. Notices were issued to these companies based on the survey report, but no further action was taken after the companies exerted pressure.

The PMC's Road Department has been neglecting unauthorized cables. During the heavy rains in June, the city experienced significant waterlogging. Investigations revealed that optical fiber cables (OFC) were laid in storm drains.

Although the PMC initially removed these cables, companies reconnected them, continuing their services. Now, instead of removing the hundreds of kilometers of cables from the storm drains, efforts are being made to authorize them, maintaining the risk of waterlogging.

Unauthorized underground and overhead cables are causing visual pollution and revenue loss for the PMC. Therefore, notices will be issued to the cable holders, and penalties will be collected.

In June, the Municipal Commissioner approved a policy for this procedure. According to the order, the relevant engineers should verify the cables based on feedback from Era Teleinfra and conduct a final survey before regularizing the cables.

If cable holders have laid underground cables without PMC permission, they will have to pay three times the excavation fee for regularization. This includes ₹17,850 per meter for PVC and RCC cables, ₹16,641 per meter for road excavations, and ₹16,464 per meter for footpath excavations.

It remains to be seen if companies that have been operating with unauthorized cables for years, making crores of rupees, will pay the PMC's fees.

While the PMC has ordered the regularization of unauthorized underground cables by imposing penalties, it is essential to remove unauthorized cables from storm drains.

The city frequently experiences heavy rains in a short period, necessitating the removal of blockages in storm drains to prevent waterlogging.

"Unauthorized underground and overhead cables in the city will be regularized through a formulated policy, increasing PMC revenue. Unauthorized cables in storm drains will be removed to ensure unimpeded water flow," said Sahebrao Dandge, Superintendent Engineer, Road Department, Pune Municipal Corporation.

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