In an effort to reduce emission of pollution and consumption of diesel in the country, the government has proposed to make mandatory for mobile phone towers to be powered by solar energy. The solar power initiative for cell towers will help cut the use of noisy, smoke spewing diesel gensets in tower operations and prevent flow of government subsidy on diesel for unintended activities. MNRE has already started discussing the proposal with various stakeholders and may seek Cabinet approval for the scheme.
The ministry wants to initially ask only the new cell towers to use solar power, but all existing towers would also be covered under the scheme in phases. However, such an effort would raise construction costs by up to 50 per cent for cellphone operators such as Bharti, Vodafone and Reliance Communications. India, currently, has about 350,000 cell towers. Each tower costs about Rs 4,000,000, and the additional cost of installing a 10 kw solar power panel would be Rs 1,600,000.