With the spread of mobile phone service all across the valley of Chitral, there have been reports of connivance among officials of the service providers and vested interest groups in pocketing millions of rupees under the grab of rent for base transceiver station (BTS) towers, depriving the landowners of the facility.
When the private mobile phone service providers started installing the BTS towers, the local people were never told that under the law there would be a lease agreement between the company and the owner of the land on which a tower was to be erected. The local people welcomed the companies for launching the mobile phone service in their area which had no facility of telephone by then.
But in most of the areas, vested interest groups in connivance with officials of the service providing firms prepared fake ownership documents and entered into lease agreements with the firms to pocket the rent and other benefits including jobs such as that of watchmen.
Mir Hissam Uddin of Marting village in Yarkhun told ChitralToday that when the tower of Telenor was being installed at his land he did not make any objection because it would provide a new facility to the whole area. But a year or so later it transpired that the company was completing the procedure to enter into a lease agreement with a resident of the village who had no connection with the land.
He said the land was his property and had already been documented in his name by the revenue department through the Patwari.
He said he would go to litigation against the Telenor company if it entered into any bogus lease agreement with anyone clandestinely. He said being the sole owner of the land he was the only person to enter into any agreement for the lease of the land on which the BTS tower had been installed.
He was of the view that the private company should have explicitly explain to the local people about the lease of the land instead of trying to secretly enter into an agreement with the irrelevant person to claim ownership for getting the benefits of the land use.
He also said that the district administration should order an inquiry into the matter so that owners of land being used by mobile phone service providers are given their rights under the law of the land.