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Mumbai residents up in arms against mobile towers

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : April 29, 2013 4:01 PM IST

Residents of Dadar, Matunga and Wadala gathered at the Mancherji Joshi Hall in Dadar s Parsi Colony on Sunday to protest against the arbitrary installation of cell phone towers in their locality. The residents attended a presentation by the Forum Against Cell Towers (FACT), which highlighter the hazards of electromagnetic radiation from cell towers. There s much speculation about how round-the-clock exposure can cause cancer.

The residents have decided to take up the matter directly with CM Prithviraj Chavan by sending him a petition with over 200 signatures.

The residents say one of the major hurdles is getting to the bottom of who s actually in-charge of phone tower related policy. Several citizens groups want the towers removed but don t know whom to approach. Every agency is just passing the buck. We need the role of each agency clearly defined, said activist Nikhil Desai.

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Last week, the Departmental of Telecommunications (DoT) has said that Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cells were the sole authorities responsible for enforcing phone tower norms. There s no clarity on the laws and guidelines pertaining to cell phone towers or who s responsible for enforcing them. Activists expressed the need for clearer regulations for installation of cell phone towers, permitted radiation levels, number of towers per structure, their height and transmission levels etc.

Actress Juhi Chawla said at the meeting, Mobile companies must ensure they highlight Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value on the boxes. SAR points out the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by a body while using a phone.

Anti-radiation activist Prakash Munshi, who also attended the meeting to show his support, hit out at the BMC for the delay in declaring its draft policy on cell phone towers, which could have led to the installation of several illegal towers in the meantime.

Unsurprisingly, Rajan S Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said he was surprised at the statements made by social activists at the meeting. There is a total lack of appreciation for scientific facts and studies undertaken by national and international bodies. The cellular industry is working very closely with the DoT and government bodies to clarify doubts regarding telecom towers, said Mathews. Read what expert Neha Kumar has to say about the issue and find more about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation

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